The coverage is blanket. All terrestrial channels will be displaying the triumphant return of People's Liberation Army tanks to Tiananmen Square in the biggest military parade in China since 1949, The National Parade (Pearl and Jade, 9.30am, World, 9.55am and Home, 9.45am). Militarists and people fascinated by war machines may be impressed by the array of rocket power the army will proudly show off. Local news teams will provide commentaries in Cantonese and English. There will also be live coverage of the event on Cable 1 and 2 news channels from 9am and of course on CCTV on Cable's Channel 22. Besides the armaments about half a million people will demonstrate their joy at the PRC's 50th birthday and there will be around 90 official floats. It's a massive TV spectacle, surpassing the scale of city festivals like Rio de Janiero, the sort of event that communists do best. But with the streets and nearby buildings swept of ordinary people, do not expect to witness a spontaneous street party. By lunchtime, though, the English terrestrial channels return to normal Friday schedule, with extra entertainment thrown in for the public holiday. To watch the fireworks in Beijing you'll need access to Cable, which is showing National Day Fireworks (Cable News 1, 8pm) from Tiananmen as well as National Day Fireworks Hong Kong (Cable News 2, 9.30pm). Hong Kong's fireworks get more, with China National Fireworks Display 1999 (Jade, 9.25pm and Home, 9.30pm). American-owned CNN International has entered into the spirit of the occasion, with its Visions Of China week reaching its climax. The channel promises extensive live coverage from Beijing, with China the focus of its regular news and business programmes. It also begins an eight-part series in which Mike Chinoy and Rebecca MacKinnon trace the 50-year history in Perspectives (CNNI, 11pm). Like several other programmes we've seen or heard on the topic, this is entitled China's Long March. But if we think we've heard the story many times already, we can take solace that each episode lasts just five minutes. In tonight's episode, The Revolution, Chinoy explores why and how the communists won. CNBC also looks back over the past 50 years, as well as to the country's future in Challenging Asia, China 50 (CNBC 8pm) and BBC World promises live news reporting and features through the day. Mel Gibson's lethal fire power is likely to be more entertaining than the PRC's. He and Danny Glover can be counted on for thrills, laughs and action in Lethal Weapon 3 (Pearl, 9.30pm). Gibson's Detective Martin Riggs meets his match in Detective Lorna Cole (Rene Russo). Cable subscribers will have to decide whether to watch these two in Lethal Weapon or the more intense Ransom (HBO, 9pm). Earth Story (Pearl, 8.30pm) has taken on a new local relevance following the disastrous earthquake in Taiwan last week. Tonight's episode, Ring Of Fire, focuses on the mechanics of plate tectonics in the Pacific. Biologist Aubrey Manning will explain how all around the Pacific, oceanic plate is sinking beneath neighbouring plates, causing earthquakes, volcanoes and the formation of continents.