Beijing is likely to hold a large-scale military parade to mark the 90th anniversary of the establishment of the PLA, just a few months ahead of a party leadership reshuffle scheduled to take place late this year, military sources say. A PLA general from the ground force said President Xi Jinping, who is also chairman of the Central Military Commission, was expected to inspect troops on PLA Day on August 1. The last such large military parade was one commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of second world war. “It will be an event, not merely a military parade,” said the general, comparing the planned parade to a troop inspection carried by late leader Deng Xiaoping in 1981. In a move to establish his personal prestige and boost morale within the army, Deng held a large military exercise for four days, involving more than 100,000 tro ops from all military services except the marines. The exercise was held in Hebei province in September 1981, three months after Deng had risen to head the Central Military Commission. He inspected the troops a day after the exercise, a sign that he had returned to power following the end of the political and social turmoil of the Cultural Revolution in 1976. Deng told his subordinates not to hold back on the scale of the parade. “Let’s hold a large-scale one if we are to hold a military exercise, so that it can be of use,” Deng was quoted as saying in a memoir by former PLA admiral Zhou Yibing. Xi Jinping likely to preside over military parade in Hong Kong handover anniversary Zhou was the head of the Beijing Military Command between 1987 and 1990. All of China’s party leaders watched the 1981 exercise, including officials in the Politburo and senior cadres in provincial governments. Another lieutenant general who did not want to be identified also said there would be large-scale celebrations to mark the PLA anniversary. Lieutenant General Rong Guiqing, the deputy commander and chief of staff with the Western Theatre Command, yesterday said massive celebrations were expected for PLA Day, but he stopped short of saying they would involve a parade. It remained unclear who would be the commander of any PLA Day military parade. Xi Jinping appoints new man to tackle PLA corruption The chosen officer would inevitably be a member of the top brass, and one who boasted the full trust of China’s most senior leaders. For instance, General Qin Jiwei was the commander of the 1981 parade. A former defence minister, he had been one of Deng’s closest military allies in the decades ahead of the parade. When Xi reviewed the army on September 3, 2015 on the anniversary of the end of the second world war, the commander of the parade was General Song Puxuan, who had been regarded as one of Xi’s protégés. Earlier, General Zhang Shibo had surprised PLA watchers at home and abroad when he was promoted to commander of the Beijing Military Command from leading the Hong Kong Garrison in late 2012. The promotion came a few months after he had commanded a troop inspection for then Central Military Commission chairman Hu Jintao on July 1 in the New Territories, marking the 15th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong.