National Day of the People's Republic of China

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National Day of the People's Republic of China
National Day decorations - Beihai Park.JPG
Flower garden at Beihai Park in 2004
The signboards read "国庆" (guóqìng; literally "country celebrate") meaning "National Day".
Observed byPeople's Republic of China including Hong Kong and Macau
TypeHistorical, cultural, nationalist
CelebrationsFestivities, including fireworks and concerts (a grand military parade every several years)
DateOctober 1
Next time1 October 2020 (2020-10-01)
National Day of the People's Republic of China
Simplified Chinese国庆节
Traditional Chinese國慶節
Literal meaningcountry celebrate holiday
Tiananmen Square, 2006 National Day of the PRC. The placard reads "Warmly celebrate the 57th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China". The portrait is that of Sun Yat-sen.[1]

National Day (Chinese: 国庆节; pinyin: guóqìng jié), officially the National Day of the People's Republic of China, is celebrated annually on October 1 as a public holiday in the People's Republic of China commemorating the establishment of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949 during the later years of the Chinese Civil War and the Kuomintang retreat to Taiwan.[2][3]

Although it is observed on October 1, another six days are added to the official holiday, normally in lieu of the two weekend breaks around October 1, making it practically a public holiday comprising seven consecutive days also known as Golden Week (黄金周; huángjīn zhōu) with specifics regulated by the State Council.[4] Festivities and concerts are usually held nationwide on this day, with a grand military parade and mass pageant event held on select years.[A] As of October 2019, the last parade was held on the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China in 2019.


The People's Republic of China was founded on October 1, 1949, with a ceremony celebrating the forming of the Central People's Government taking place in Tiananmen Square on the same day that year.[6] The first public parade of the new People's Liberation Army took place there, following the address by the country's first Chairman Mao Zedong officially declaring the formal establishment of the Republic. The Central People's Government passed the Resolution on the National Day of the People's Republic of China on December 2, 1949, and declared that October 1 is the National Day.[7]

National celebrations[edit]

National Day marks the start of the only Golden Weeks in the PRC that the government has kept. Removing one of the Golden Weeks caused controversies when it happened in 2007.

The day is celebrated throughout mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau with a variety of government-organized festivities, including fireworks and concerts, as well as sports events and cultural events. Public places, such as Tiananmen Square in Beijing, are decorated in a festive theme. Portraits of revered leaders, such as Mao Zedong, are publicly displayed.[8] The holiday is also celebrated by many overseas Chinese.

Wreath-laying ceremony is at the Monument to the People's Heroes[edit]

From 2004 to 2013, a national wreath-laying ceremony was held on National Day in Tiananmen Square following the flag raising ceremony on years with no parades, with the ceremony focused on the Monument to the People's Heroes, built in 1958 in remembrance of the millions of Chinese who perished during the long years of national struggle. Beginning in 2014, they have been held on a new holiday, National Memorial Day, set on the eve of National Day, September 30, and is presided by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (China's paramount leader) and other party and state leaders.

National flag-raising ceremony[edit]

For many years, the 6 a.m. National Day flag-raising ceremony is the more important act on years without any anniversary parades. Held at the Tiananmen Square, since 2017 the Beijing Garrison Honor Guard Battalion's Color Guard Company is present for the ceremony with the National Marching Band of the PLA. Until 2016 the Beijing People's Armed Police units provided men for the ceremonial color guard. The ceremony is open to the general public and tourists and is widely televised.

National civil-military parade[edit]

The extraordinary special civil-military parade of the People's Liberation Army, People's Armed Police and the Militia together with representatives of the people of all walks of life, which was a feature of the day since the first parade of 1949, and is also televised on China Central Television since 1984 (and broadcast around the world from that year as well via satellite and cable television), is a key highlight of the national celebrations in Beijing.[9] Since the parade of 1950, parades have been held on the city's Tiananmen Square to mark the anniversary of the official foundation of the PRC and today these have been held every 10th year (a format which began in 1999 to mark the golden jubilee anniversary of nationhood), formerly there were yearly parades held until 1959 when the CPC decided that the holiday would be celebrated "with frugality".[10] Parades were also held in 1964, 1966, 1969, 1970 and 1984.[11][12]

The parade is presided by the paramount leader in his political duty as General Secretary of the Communist Party of China and constitutional mandate as President of the People's Republic (since 1999), the supreme commander of the PLA and chairman of the Central Military Commission, since 1984 he has also inspected the parade in person. The parade commander is a general officer of the PLA with the rank of Lieutenant General or Major General, with the position of commander of the Central Theater Command or as a high ranking member of the CMC's present 15 departments. Until 1959, during the years that the parade was held in a nationalized form of the Soviet tradition, the parade was inspected by the Minister of National Defense, a high-ranking billet occupied by either a General or (before 1984) a Marshal. The event's master of ceremonies has either been the Party Committee Secretary of Beijing or a high ranking member of the Central Committee, CPC.

Opening of the parade[edit]

At 10 a.m. the massed military bands of the People's Liberation Army sound the Welcome March, signifying the official commencement of the ceremony. As the paramount leader arrives, he is joined by the following on the rostum on the Tiananmen Gate:

  • Premier of the State Council of the PRC
  • Chairmen of both the Standing Committees of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference
  • High ranking officials of the Politburo Standing Committee and the other departments under the Central Committee, CPC
  • Vice President of the PRC
  • Vice Premiers of the State Council of the PRC
  • Vice Chairmen of the Central Military Commission and members of the departments of the Commission
  • Chief Justice of the Supreme People's Court
  • Prosecutor General of the Supreme People's Procuratorate
  • State Councilors
  • Vice Chairmen of the Standing Committee of the NPC and the National Committee of the CPPCC
  • Secretaries of the Secretariat of the Communist Party of China
  • Retired leaders of the party and the Republic
  • Representatives of both the NPC and CPPCC
  • Ministers of the State Council and heads of national government agencies with ministerial status
  • Members of the diplomatic corps and any foreign heads of state and/or governments present if any
  • Representatives of the private sector, state-owned national and regional companies and people's organizations
  • If available, provincial governors, city mayors and heads of the Party provincial and municipal committees and legislatures

In past parades a card stunt display was assembled at the square grounds made up of thousands of young men and women from the capital and from various parts of the country (abolished 2015), while student battalions of the Young Pioneers of China are assembled in the sides of the Massed Bands, led by the Senior Director of Music of the PLA Military Bands Service, made up of around 1,900 male and female bandsmen from the service branches from military bands stationed nationwide. The Pioneer Battalions carry the red battalion colours which can be seen in front of their respective contingents.

The flag raising ceremony follows the arrivals, but unlike the normal ceremony the color guard company, as a 21-gun salute is fired by the gunners of the State Honors Artillery Battery of the Beijing Garrison Command, marches off from the sides of the Monument to the People's Heroes, forms up, and takes its place at the center of the grounds nearest the Massed Bands, with the Flag of China now being placed into the flagpole by the color officer, who has just been given the color from the color guard. The segment was introduced in 1999 as a reenactment of sorts of the raising of the national flag in the square in 1949.

With that concluded and the card stunt now in position, the master of ceremonies gives the announcement on the microphone: Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the raising of the national flag and the singing of the National Anthem! By then, the color officer now orders the salute and the massed bands play the National Anthem March of the Volunteers as the color company presents arms, after the anthem is played the color company orders arms and stands at ease.

Inspection of the parade[edit]

As the armed linemen of the Beijing Capital Garrison take their places, the paramount leader then descends to the grounds of the Tiananmen Gate via the elevator and rides on an open top Hongqi L5 for the inspection segment, with around 4,000 to 16,000 military personnel of the PLA, PAP and militia formations assembled by battalions, as well as the 9,000 strong personnel of the mobile column with around 400-900 vehicles. As he arrives at the front of the gate at the Chang'an Avenue, the parade commander (since 1954 the Commander of the Beijing Military Region and later the Central Theater Command) arrives in a similar limousine to inform the paramount leader of the commencement of the inspection of the parade.

The report done, the paramount leader, as the Massed bands play, then inspect the formations, each of its leaders ordering a salute as he passes by, after which they stand at attention. Since 1984 the regular honor guard companies of the Beijing Garrison Honor Guard Battalion (since 2015 the final company is a women's company) together with its national colour guard unit are the first in line for the inspection segment of the parade.

Following the inspection, the paramount leader returns to the Tiananmen Gate to give the national keynote holiday address, at the same time the commander takes his place in the gate as well and the parade formations are now formed in review order as the mobile column now forms up in addition to the flypast.

In the 2019 parade, the order was reversed, this time the paramount leader gives the opening keynote address before departing from the gate for the parade inspection.

Military parade proper[edit]

The order Commence the parade! from the parade commander atop Tiananmen Gate is the signal for the parade formation to march past the gate, wherein the dignitaries are gathered, while the crowds are assembled on the stands around the gate which include veterans of the PLA, Young Pioneers, representatives of state and private businesses and distinguished citizens as well as the civil service and the diplomatic corps and foreign press representatives. As the Massed Bands play the Parade March of the PLA, a special parade version of the Military Anthem of the People's Liberation Army, following the fly past of the national and party flags and the flag of the PLA, alongside, in special years, a helicopter formation honoring the number of years of nationhood, the ground column marches first as the General Secretary and other party, state and military leaders take the salute of each of the contingents marching past the saluting stand. Since 1984 the regular honor guard companies of the Beijing Garrison Honor Guard Battalion, including the aformentioned female company, are the first to march past the dignitaries, led by the colour guard carrying the flag of the PLA, which serves as the defacto national colour, alongside the national and party flags that both precede it. Each of the battalions that march past are made up of the following:

Until the parade of 1959, the PLA, PAP and militia marched separately during the parade proper (the militia marched as part of the civil column). Each of the battalions consists of 350 soldiers (14 rows of 25 soldiers) and are led by the battalion commander and the battalion political commissar, who march at the lead of their unit.[13]

A mobile column then follows which is also formed into battalions, but with the command personnel mounted on their vehicles as they render honors. These are made up of the mostly nationally produced military vehicles and equipment in service and being introduced to serve the needs of the modern PLA. Following this, the flypast of aircraft from the Ground Forces, Navy and Air Force follows suit.

List of National Day parades[14][15][16][17][edit]

Parade Year President/Paramount Leader Parade Commander Parade Inspector Number of Participants Notes
1949 Mao Zedong Nie Rongzhen (Commander of the Northern China Military Region) Zhu De (Commander-in-Chief of the PLA) 16,000 The Proclamation of the People's Republic of China took place right before the parade occurred.[18]
1950 Mao Zedong Nie Rongzhen (Commander of the Northern China Military Region) Zhu De (Commander-in-Chief of the PLA) 24,200
1951 Mao Zedong Nie Rongzhen (Commander of the Northern China Military Region) Zhu De (Commander-in-Chief of the PLA) 13,350
1952 Mao Zedong Nie Rongzhen (Commander of the Northern China Military Region) Zhu De (Commander-in-Chief of the PLA) 11,300
1953 Mao Zedong Nie Rongzhen (Commander of the Northern China Military Region) Zhu De (Commander-in-Chief of the PLA) 10,050
1954 Mao Zedong Yang Chengwu (Commander of the Beijing Military Region) Peng Dehuai (Minister of National Defense) 10,400 The parade was attended by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and North Korean leader Kim Il-Sung. It was the last appearance for Chinese cavalry troops known as "China’s Cossacks".[19]
1955 Mao Zedong Yang Chengwu (Commander of the Beijing Military Region) Peng Dehuai (Minister of National Defense) 10,300 It was the shortest ever parade at only 50 minutes
1956 Mao Zedong Yang Chengwu (Commander of the Beijing Military Region) Peng Dehuai (Minister of National Defense) 12,000
1957 Mao Zedong Yang Chengwu (Commander of the Beijing Military Region) Peng Dehuai (Minister of National Defense) 7,100 Indonesian President Sukarno and Nepalese Prime Minister Tanka Prasad Acharya were in attendance.
1958 Mao Zedong Yang Chengwu (Commander of the Beijing Military Region) Peng Dehuai (Minister of National Defense) 10,000
1959 Mao Zedong Yang Yong (Commander of the Beijing Military Region) Lin Biao (Minister of National Defense) 11,000 See 10th anniversary of the People's Republic of China
1984 Deng Xiaoping Qin Jiwei (Commander of the Beijing Military Region) Deng Xiaoping 10,400 See 35th anniversary of the People's Republic of China
1999 Jiang Zemin Li Xinliang (Commander of the Beijing Military Region) Jiang Zemin 11,000 See 50th anniversary of the People's Republic of China
2009 Hu Jintao Fang Fenghui (Commander of the Beijing Military Region) Hu Jintao 11,000 See 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China
2019 Xi Jinping Yi Xiaoguang (Commander of the Central Theatre Command) Xi Jinping 19,000 soldiers[20] See 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China

Cancelled parades[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Since the founding of the people's republic to 2009, the country has held 14 National Day grand military parades in 1949–1959, 1984, 1999, and 2009.[5]


  1. ^ Fu, Ying (2008-07-16). "China at 60: Nostalgia and progress". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  2. ^ "Flag-raising ceremony held for China's National Day celebration". Xinhua News Agency. 2009-10-01. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  3. ^ Westad, Odd (2003). Decisive Encounters: The Chinese Civil War, 1946–1950. Stanford University Press. p. 305. ISBN 978-0-8047-4484-3.
  4. ^ "国务院办公厅关于2019年部分节假日安排的通知" [Notice of the General Office of the State Council on Some Holiday Arrangements in 2019]. 2018-12-04. Retrieved 2019-09-29.
  5. ^ 新中国历次大阅兵 [New China's previous grand military parades]. Xinhua News Agency. 21 August 2009. Archived from the original on 27 December 2009. Retrieved 26 September 2019.
  6. ^ "China National Day: October 1st, Golden Week".
  7. ^ "National Day celebrated across China". Xinhua News Agency. 2009-10-01. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  8. ^ "China celebrates with elaborate display of power and ideology". The Irish Times. 2009-10-02. Retrieved 2011-04-30.
  9. ^ "The history of the People's Republic of China – through 70 years of mass parades".
  10. ^ "1960年至1983年为什么没有国庆阅兵".
  11. ^ Hung, Chang-tai (2007). "Mao's Parades: State Spectacles in China in the 1950s" (PDF). The China Quarterly. 190 (190): 411–431. doi:10.1017/S0305741007001269. JSTOR 20192777.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "Parading the People's Republic". 2015-09-02.
  15. ^ "China's Military Parades: A Look Back". 2015-09-02.
  16. ^ Fuller, Linda K. (2004). National Days/National Ways: Historical, Political, and Religious Celebrations Around the World. ISBN 9780275972707.
  17. ^ "China's Military Parade Celebrates World War II Victory". The New York Times. 2015-09-04.
  18. ^ "Reds Proclaim a Republic in China; Chou is Premier; CHINESE REPUBLIC LAUNCHED BY REDS".
  19. ^
  20. ^ "China says National Day parade 'won't disappoint' in scale or weapons".

External links[edit]