BEIJING, Sept. 3 (Xinhua) -- More than 50 generals, including lieutenant generals and major generals, made a rare appearance on Thursday to lead formations or air echelons in a Beijing military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
It is the first military parade in China that featured generals leading troops, signaling the army's resolve to boost morale and improve combat ability.
The parade on Thursday, first time in China to mark an anniversary of the war, featured 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of equipment and nearly 200 aircraft. Each foot formation and armament formation was led by at least one general. Some of them flew the leader aircraft in the air echelons.
The participation of generals was intended to demonstrate senior army officers' ability to lead the troops as well as their sense of duty to set examples for soldiers, Major General Wang Shun, deputy director of the parade joint command, said prior to the event.
"We believe these commanders can shoulder the historical task of building a strong army," Wang said.
At an average age of 53, these generals include several with combat experience, according to sources close to the military.
The only female general in the military parade was 56-year-old Major General Tian Ou, who led a female medical soldier formation named after the Canadian surgeon Norman Bethune who aided China's fight against Japanese aggression.
The generals had trained with soldiers at a base over the past months.
"The experience of attending the parade together with the soldiers helps foster a closer relationship between us," Rear Admiral Liu Gengqun from the North China Sea Fleet told Xinhua in an interview. "It is good for coordination on the battlefield in the future."