Out of the sunroof, and the office: Glimpses of China parade

AP News
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Posted: Sep 03, 2015 4:39 AM
Out of the sunroof, and the office: Glimpses of China parade

BEIJING (AP) — Brief looks at China's massive parade Thursday commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II:

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XI'S LIMO

Shortly before the military hardware lumbered past Tiananmen Square, Chinese President Xi Jinping was his own parade, rallying the long line of assembled troops from the sunroof of his limo as it drove past the waiting procession.

Dressed in a slate-gray, high-buttoned suit of the sort worn by Chinese leaders going back to Mao Zedong, and Sun Yat-sen before him, Xi cut a rock-ribbed figure as he called out to the troops though four microphones mounted in front of him atop the roof of his Chinese-made Red Flag limousine, its red flag snapping in the wind.

Every few moments, he called out "Greetings, Comrades," to which assembled troops responded "Greetings, leader!" Xi alternated that greeting with "Thanks for your efforts!" to which soldiers responded "Serving the people!"

Previous Chinese leaders have used the sunroof-and-microphone setup to review troops, including Xi's predecessor, Hu Jintao, during a 2009 parade marking the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

The Red Flag later became the official car for conveying foreign dignitaries during visits to China.

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SECURITY LOCKDOWN

An order by the Public Security Office shut down office buildings along the parade route through the heart of Beijing from midday Wednesday until early afternoon on Thursday, after the parade ended. This meant scores of high-rise office buildings along the city's main east-west axis that passes between Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City were off-limits to staff, including the building where The Associated Press has its offices. Many offices chose to close all of Wednesday and Thursday.

The AP had to temporarily relocate to a hotel outside the security zone for the hours when the shutdown was in force.

Although ordinary Beijingers were mostly unable to get anywhere close to the parade at street level, anyone near the center of town could watch fighter planes and helicopters zooming in formations overhead, some trailing colored smoke.

A new wave of planes would draw residents out to plazas and patios, craning their necks to look upward, as children squealed with delight.

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BIRD THREAT

To minimize the chances of birds striking engines during the many airplane flyovers connected to the Beijing parade, state media reports say, the military has used falcons to chase away birds and a team of trained macaques to flush nests out of trees around the pilots' training grounds.

"We bought two monkeys in April last year from Henan province. After one month's training, the macaques mastered the skill of taking apart birds' nests," air force official Wang Mingzhi was quoted as saying by China News Service. Three more monkeys were later added to the team, which can dismantle up to 60 nests per day in return for rewards, Wang said.

Other air-clearing measures in the capital include bans on kites, balloons and sport pigeons. Beijing's airports will be closed for three hours.