The Chinese President, Hu Jintao, took new steps yesterday to woo Taiwan towards reunification and to assert his leadership over the military, as China hosted a mass parade to celebrate its 60th birthday.
The parade through Tiananmen Square of 90,000 troops, students and citizens stretched for three kilometres. It showcased the latest in China's military arsenal as well an assortment of the country's industrial, social and scientific achievements.
''From here, on this same day 60 years ago, Chairman Mao solemnly announced the founding of the People's Republic of China after the Chinese people were victorious in revolution after a century of bloodshed and fighting,'' Mr Hu told the mass gathering from the Gate of Heavenly Peace, fronting the square.
''The Chinese people stood up, and a nation with 5000 years of civilisation has entered a new era for development and progress.''
Mr Hu said the Chinese people were ''full of confidence'' about the country's rejuvenation and ''cannot be prouder of the development and progress of our great motherland''.
Yesterday's National Day parade was distinguished from previous ones by a subtle welcoming of Taiwan into Beijing's fold. In the most strongly emphasised line in his speech, Mr Hu promised to ''push forward the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and continue to strive for realising the complete reunification of the motherland''.
About 300 Taiwanese delegates were reportedly invited to watch the parade, which was broadcast on Taiwanese TV for the first time.
China Central Television showed close-up shots of waving hands and smiling faces when the Taiwan float passed by.
TV commentators managed to extol the heroic achievements of the People's Liberation Army without explicitly mentioning its primary foe, the Kuomintang, which now rules Taiwan.
''In past military parades the PLA always mentioned the 'counter revolutionary' Kuomintang when it bragged about its heroic achievements,'' said Huang Jing, a political analyst at the National University of Singapore. ''This is the first time the civil war against the KMT was not mentioned at all.''
The parade also saw Mr Hu position himself as the unchallenged leader of the PLA.
The former president Jiang Zemin - who has hindered Mr Hu's leadership by refusing to completely retire - appeared at Mr Hu's side atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace.
But Mr Hu was distinguished from his predecessor by being the only leader or former leader to wear a black buttoned up ''Sun Yat-sen'' suit (also known in the West as a ''Mao'' suit) rather than a business suit.
Mr Jiang did not address the troops, and he was later given a chair to sit on while his younger comrades remained standing.
In April two of Mr Jiang's supporters in the Central Military Commission doggedly fought to allow him to jointly address a naval parade at Qingdao but Mr Hu refused, Beijing sources say.
On that occasion Mr Hu had worn a business suit, apparently to make the point that the military was subordinate to the civilian Communist Party leadership.
''This time he was just wearing the Mao suit, which actually shows he has consolidated his power over the military,'' Professor Huang said.