It was another anniversary in the crucible of the revolution, but nobody paid the slightest attention. In the sweltering streets of Nanchang, bare-chested men sat on the pavements, playing cards and drinking beer. Women in broad-brimmed straw hats decked with flowers rode bicycles home from work. In the city square, said to be largest in China after Tiananmen, a huge bayoneted rifle carved in stone soared above a monument erected in 1977. That towering symbol was built with pride two decades ago to mark the 50th anniversary of one of the most momentous events in the Communist Party's long struggle for power. But last Thursday, 69 years after a peasant army seized Nanchang, the city that witnessed the first victory of the Red Army shrugged off any celebrations. There were no battalions swinging in review down Zhongshan Road. No artillery sounded, no trumpets blared. In the two revolutionary museums, one of them in a truly disgraceful state of repair, the other sadly rundown and jaded, there were empty halls. Nobody paid homage before the fading photographs of martyred students or the youthful revolutionaries of 1927. Across town, in discos, bars and restaurants, the young people of Nanchang danced to Canto-pop and sipped Jiangxi beer. In the elegant karaoke bar at the Hong Kong-owned and run Lake View Hotel, local workers from some of the 3,300 joint ventures which are bringing prosperity to the province whirled under flashing lights. China marks August 1 as Army Day in memory of the Nanchang Uprising. It was a crucial turning point. Earlier that year , Chiang Kai-shek turned with ferocity on the communists, with whom he had combined forces to free China from warlord rule. In April, the Kuomintang recruited the criminal scum of Shanghai to help launch a sudden vicious attack on their leftist partners. Student idealists and trade unionists alike were rounded up in their thousands, shot, beheaded and, in well-documented cases, hurled alive into blazing furnaces. The slaughter was echoed in other cities. Nanchang, the wealthy and proud capital of Jiangxi, secure behind its 35 kilometres of sturdy walls which had not been breached for 900 years, became the target for insurrection. Quietly, into the city, came units of peasant armies raised by unknown revolutionaries, men like Zhu De , who was to become commander-in-chief of the Workers and Peasants Red Army. Hiding in schools, warehouses and halls, the 30,000 men waited for the word. It came before dawn on August 1. By daylight, the city was theirs. China would never be the same again. For the first time, the Communist Party had directly controlled an organised military force in battle. Zhu had campaigned in his native Yunnan against warlords and He Long had come storming out of Hunan at the head of his peasant militia. But this was different. This was a united army of revolution under direct political control. The Nanchang Uprising was shortlived. Four days after they seized the city, the insurgents melted away. Most marched south to join Mao Zedong who had already started taming bandits in the remote Jinggangshan ranges. Soon, he would establish the first 'liberated soviet'. The rest is history; it can all be traced back to that quiet night in Nanchang when peasant boys became disciplined soldiers. But in the Jiangxi capital last week, few seemed to care. Prosperity rules today in the furnace where the revolution was set ablaze.