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Let the Red Times Roll

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Paint the town red: A guard looks out from a temporary grandstand erected in Tiananmen Square. On Thursday, the largest military parade in China's modern history will pass through the square as part of elaborately planned celebrations to mark the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China.

Feng Li/Getty Images

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Goose-stepping out: China's Oct. 1 military parade will showcase some of its most advanced military hardware, perhaps intended to send a signal to foreign observers. The parade will include flatbed trucks carrying a range of short- and long-range missiles, including intercontinental DF-31 nuclear missiles capable of striking Washington and sea-skimming YJ-83 anti-ship missiles capable of hitting targets in Taiwan. Below, People's Liberation Army soldiers perform a rehearsal drill.

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

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Gilded stage: A man touches up gold paint on decorative columns erected for the festivities in Tiananmen Square. Additional parade preparations include a ban on pigeons flying within a 125-mile radius of the square to avoid having birds sucked into jet engines of the People's Liberation Army Air Force.

LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images

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Folk life en masse: Villagers from Ansai County in northwestern Shaanxi province rehearse the traditional waist-drum dance they will perform in Tiananmen Square on Oct. 1.

Feng Li/Getty Images

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Dress rehearsal: Female militia units practice drills in Tiananmen Square in preparation for the Oct. 1 military parade. White gloves and white boots are part of their distinctive dress uniform.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

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March madness: Thousands of participants rehearse a formation on Tiananmen Square before China's Oct. 1 National Day pageant.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

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Odd bedfellows: Both military tanks and parade floats will roll down Beijing streets on Oct. 1. Above, workers touch up one of the floats built for the patriotic procession.

STR/AFP/Getty Images

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Red weathermen: Members of the People's Liberation Army Air Force stand for inspection during a rehearsal for the Oct. 1 parade. To ward off rain, the Air Force will dispatch 18 aircraft on parade day to spray cloud-dispersal chemicals into the air around Beijing.

Feng Li/Getty Images

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Officer taste test: Feeding 200,000 parade participants poses a major logistical challenge. Here a People's Liberation Army officer tastes food prepared by chefs stationed in the temporary 60th National Day Parade Village in Beijing.

Feng Li/Getty Images

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Mao is dead. Long live Mao.: Beijing has renounced most of Mao Zedong's economic prescriptions, but the Chairman's image is still ubiquitous on 60th anniversary souvenirs, such as these pendants hanging in a Beijing shop.

Feng Li/Getty Images

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Mass cakewalk: Many Chinese couples are expected to take wedding vows on Oct. 1, which is considered an auspicious date.

Feng Li/Getty Images

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Fireworkin' it: A fireworks display rehearsal lights up the Beijing sky on Sept. 12. Last year's Beijing Olympic Games were considered China's coming-out party to the world. This year's National Day celebrations mark an opportunity for the ruling Communist Party to sell a narrative of its good stewardship to the Chinese people, even in the wake of increasing ethnic unrest in western China and global economic uncertainty.

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Other photo essays:

?China Turns 60

?China's 30 Years of Economic Overdrive

?For China's Polluting Factories, a Change of Address

Update, Sept. 30: The deck and the captions for photos 3 and 5 were lightly edited for clarity.

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