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China has showcased its military capabilities, as well as its economic and social progress, in a huge parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the Communist state.
A troop of young women sang "Happy Birthday" to their homeland, in honor of the 60th anniversary of the day Chairman Mao Zedong declared the founding of modern China from Tiananmen Gate.
China's current leader, Hu Jintao, wore what has come to be called a Mao suit. His colleagues, and past leaders, all dressed in Western suits.
President Hu stood in an open-topped Red Flag limousine to review the troops. Then, he stood in the same place as Mao on the Tiananmen Gate, to pay tribute to all the achievements that brought China to where it is today.
Mr. Hu says "long live the great People's Republic of China, the great Chinese Communist Party and the great Chinese people."
He also adds that China will maintain a policy of peace and develop friendly cooperation with all nations.
His words were meant to allay any fears conjured up by Thursday's hour-long show of China's military strength. After Mr. Hu's speech, thousands of soldiers marched past - many of them escorting military hardware.
The highlights were several new missiles, including a ballistic missile that can carry a nuclear warhead and another one that has been nicknamed the "aircraft carrier killer." China also showcased new mobile radar units, unmanned drones and helicopters - equipment state-run TV announcers said would be useful for the "new information-based environment."
Floats celebrating developments in areas such as agriculture, industry and science followed the military procession. Each of China's provinces, autonomous regions and special administrative regions contributed a float. There was even a float to represent Taiwan, a separately governed island that China claims as its territory.
Tens of thousands of people, waving brightly colored fans or flowers, surrounded the floats or marched on their own. Performers wearing ethnic costumes danced and sang to show harmony. Thousands of children came at the end of the parade, to represent hopes for China's future.
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Across Beijing, residents tried to carry on with their lives, despite the parade's extensive disruptions to traffic. Twenty-two year-old groom Shen Wei said it is more joyful to have his wedding on this day.
Shen says he and his bride, Tan Yue, especially picked the date because it is China's National Day.
Official media say there are tens of thousands of couples around the country who are taking advantage of the auspicious date to get married.
And for all Thursday's celebrations - big and small - the skies in Beijing were clear and blue, a striking departure from the heavy fog of a day earlier.