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Beijing`s Military Parade Village - the temporary home of the military troops who will perform in the upcoming National Day parade - opened its gates to foreign media for the first time on September 10.

More than 30 media organizations from 17 countries were shown around the village, with a tour of the training field, logistic base, and living facilities.

Thousands of men and women have been preparing to dazzle the world with their crisp steps and immaculate formations on Oct 1.

That day is the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People`s Republic of China, when an increasingly confident Chinese government will show off the military prowess that has been growing in tandem with its economic might, with a parade through central Beijing.

It will demonstrate the positive image of China as a country seeking peaceful development, the military power of China`s army to safeguard national security and uphold world peace, and boost the self esteem and pride of the Chinese nation," said Senior Colonel Guo Zhigang, deputy head of the training camp.

Officials are taking no risks with their A-list performers, who have been training for months in the specially-built parade village, where the elite group drills for eight hours a day, rain or shine. "The mission to participate in the parade is a sacred mission, given by the Party and the people," Guo said, adding that many had given up comfortable jobs and good salaries for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

The troops - unusually tall for China with a minimum height of 180 cm for men, and 165 cm for women - are almost ready for the parade after months of preparation.

"First, we trained individually, then in lines, before building up to full formation," said aptly-named chief training officer Yuan Daqing.

"The moves must be very precise. No matter from which angle you look, there should always be uniformity, so that the formation looks like a steel panel."

The men and women parading on Oct 1 dismiss the idea that marching up and down, correcting the angles of their arms, legs and waist for eight hours a day in the summer sun might get tiring or repetitive.

"The wishes in our hearts to sacrifice for our motherland enable us to endure the hardship," said Gao Teng, a machine-gun toting soldier from Jiangxi province.

"Anyone would be interested in seeing this parade," said David Wivell, senior producer of the Associated Press` television news. "They`d be interested because of China`s strong growth."














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