BEIJING, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- A grand flag-raising ceremony in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) was held Thursday morning in central Beijing.
Before the ceremony, Liu Qi, secretary of the Beijing MunicipalCommittee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), announced the start of the anniversary celebration on Tian'anmen Square in the heart of the Chinese capital.
Amid 60 gun salutes, 200 national flag guards in olive green uniforms walked down the platform of the Monument to the People's Heroes in the center of Tian'anmen Square, marching northward on ared carpet toward the national flag post.
The guards walked a total of 169 steps, which symbolized 169 years since 1840, a watershed in China's history when the country lost the Opium War with Britain. That eventually led to the scramble of Western powers in China.
The founding of the People's Republic ended China's history of being humiliated by outside forces. The country now is emerging asa major political and economic power on the international stage.
President Hu Jintao, flanked by former president Jiang Zemin, top legislator Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao and other leaders and invited guests, stood in the balcony of Tian'anmen Rostrum overlooking the packed square.
They joined hundreds of thousands of paraders, soldiers, and invited dignitaries to observe the ceremony.
While the flag was being hoisted, many sang in chorus with the 1,300-member military band playing the national anthem.
The 440,000-square-meter Tian'anmen Square is believed to be the largest city square in the world. Six decades ago, the founding ceremony of the PRC was held on the square and late Chairman Mao Zedong announced the birth of New China. Mao himself pressed the button to hoist the first national flag of the PRC.