The year 1999 was at the turn of the 21st century, so the military parade on the National Day of that year was known as the Chinese army’s trans-century parade.
At 10:00am on October 1, accompanied by the Commander of Beijing Military Area Command Li Xinliang, the then-Chairman of the Central Military Commission Jiang Zemin reviewed the troops. When the march-past began, 17 divisions of soldiers on foot and 25 mechanized divisions who were escorted by guards of honor from the Army, Navy and Air force crossed Tiananmen Square following the loud singing. This parade lasted for more than one hour, and showed the following three characteristics:
Various branches of the armed forces from all the three services participated in the parade, reflecting the high degree of integration of various branches of arms and services in the PLA. The reviewed troops were formed by various branches of arms from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Second Artillery Force, Armed Police and armed forces stationed in the local areas, and they represented all the components of China’s armed forces. Of the 42 ground divisions, the number of infantry divisions was reduced to two, while high-tech branches such as the armored forces and artillery accounted for 70 percent. The number of airborne echelons participating in the parade was increased to 10.
The change in the composition of the reviewed troops marked the optimization of the PLA armed forces structure. The aircraft of the aviation corps had developed from one single type to various types including fighters, bombers, attack aircrafts and refueling aircrafts. The corps already possessed double-striking and deterring capacities with a complete set of long distance forces, medium distance forces and short distance forces. The navy had established five branches with combat vessels increasing 30 fold compared to that in the beginning of New China. This meant that the high-tech branches had become the PLA’s primary forces. Forces including the Army aviation corps, marine corps, special armed police forces and reserve forces established in the new period of reform and opening-up appeared among the reviewed troops for the first time. There were newly-added branches and new types of units for the parade, fully reflecting the characteristics of the PLA’s integrated branches and joint services.
(China.org.cn, CCTV August 13, 2009)