Dressed in camouflage, Mr. Xi inspected 12,000 troops in various formations from an open-top military jeep at the parade held in Zhurihe — Asia’s largest military training centre in the middle of a desert in Inner Mongolia.
Over 100 fighter jets flew overhead and almost 600 types of weaponry were on display for the occasion — nearly half of which were making their debut in public, according to the Chinese defence ministry.
In his address to the soldiers, Mr. Xi said the PLA should strictly follow the absolute leadership of the Communist Party of China and “march to wherever the Party points to.”
“I firmly believe that our gallant military has both confidence and ability to defeat all invading enemies,” said Mr. Xi, who heads the Central Military Commission, which holds the overall command of the PLA — the world’s largest Army.
While there was no reference in his speech to over a month-long India-China military standoff at Doklam in the Sikkim section, his remarks came in the midst of shrill official media campaign and assertions by the Foreign and Defence Ministries here accusing Indian troops of trespassing into Chinese territory at Doklam.
The Chinese defence ministry spokesman said Zhurihe was selected to highlight the PLA’s combat readiness, but he emphasised that war-zone trainings had been long scheduled.
“They have nothing to do with the current situation in the region,” Colonel Ren Guoqiang said in a statement.
Biggest military parade since 2015
Clad in camouflage military suit, 64-year-old Mr. Xi said the Chinese military has the confidence and ability to safeguard, national sovereignty, security and development interests.
“Our military has the confidence and ability to write a new chapter in building of strong military and make new contributions to towards realisation of the China dream of great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation and safeguarding world peace,” Mr. Xi said in his about 10-minute address — an event carried live on state television and radio.
The military parade was the biggest since 2015 in which the Army and the air force displayed some of the most modern weapons including a new tank which reportedly held exercises in the high-altitude along the Indian border.
The other weapons included long range nuclear and conventional missiles, the new J-15 — the new aircraft based carrier.
In his address, Mr. Xi asked the military to further improve its combativeness and modernise the national defence and armed forces. The Chinese military has the world’s second largest defence budget of $152 billion next to the U.S. military.
The PLA was founded on August 1, 1927 when the ruling CPC under the leadership of Mao Zedong carried on with his national liberation movement.
It is one of the rare national armies which still continues to function under the leadership of the CPC and not the Chinese government.
“Officers and soldiers, you must unswervingly stick to the fundamental principle and system of the Party’s absolute leadership over the Army, always listen to and follow the Party’s orders, and march to wherever the Party points to,” said Mr. Xi, the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee.
'Protecting peace is responsibility of people's Army'
PLA officers and soldiers should firmly adhere to the fundamental goal of serving the people wholeheartedly, and always stand together with the people, Mr. Xi said.
He also said China needs a strong Army more than ever, urging the building of PLA into a world-class military force.
Enjoying peace is a bliss for the people, while protecting peace is the responsibility of the people’s Army, he said.
“The world is not all at peace, and peace must be safeguarded,” said Mr. Xi, who is expected to get a second five year term at the key meeting of the CPC later this year.
“Today, we are closer to the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation than any other time in history, and we need to build a strong people’s military more than any other time in history,” he said.
He urged the PLA to fully implement the CPC’s thoughts on building a strong military, follow the path of strengthening the Army with Chinese characteristics, strive for the CPC’s target on strengthening the PLA under the new circumstances, and build the heroic PLA into a world-class military.
About 12,000 troops took part in the parade in which 129 aircraft and 571 pieces of equipment were on display.
Dongfeng missiles which include short, long and medium rage of rockets, variety of armoury including light tanks, drones were also deployed.
Helicopter-borne troops demonstrated quick landing and taking combat positions.
Disappointed in China: Trump
Mr. Xi Jinping presided over the military parade, hours after U.S. President Donald Trump renewed his criticism over Beijing’s failure to rein in North Korea.
North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile on last Friday which it claims could reach all of the U.S.
President Trump has been piling pressure on China, Pyongyang’s only major ally that provides an economic lifeline to the reclusive regime, to use its leverage to make North Korea halt its nuclear and missile programs.
“I am very disappointed in China,” Mr. Trump had said in a tweet on July 29, adding that Beijing could have easily solved the problem posed by North Korea.
China is also concerned by the tense situation in the Korea Peninsula and the deployment of Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) missile by U.S. in South Korea to counter threats from North Korea.