THE PLA celebrated its 71st anniversary with a rest day for most soldiers, a feast and small parties yesterday. But soldiers were restricted to barracks and no large celebrations were held, according to a spokesman for the PLA. Among the few visible signs of the anniversary was a banner strung across the road at Sek Kong Air Base exhorting soldiers to 'Celebrate the 71st anniversary of the establishment of the People's Liberation Army'. Bases across the SAR appeared deserted as troops stayed indoors at their commanders' instructions and held their own performances of patriotic songs such as the new favourite, Becoming Soldiers in Hong Kong. Coloured flags flew around the perimeters of the camps. At Sek Kong, cooks worked throughout the morning to prepare the noon anniversary feast at which troops are traditionally entitled to extra rations. Troops were briefed on a message from Defence Minister Chi Haotian who said that the PLA would 'unswervingly' stick to guidelines on 'one country, two systems' and seek reunification with Taiwan. The low-key anniversary was in line with the army's almost-invisible presence in the SAR since the handover.