President Xi Jinping declared on Tuesday that “no force” can shake China as he oversaw a huge military parade to celebrate 70 years of Communist Party rule, shadowed by the protests in Hong Kong that threatened to steal the spotlight.

Some 15,000 troops along with tanks, missiles and high-tech drones paraded down the Avenue of Eternal Peace as Xi and other Communist Party leaders watched from a rostrum overlooking Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

Xi, who wore the distinctive “Mao suit”, delivered a speech invoking the “Chinese dream” of national rejuvenation – his grand vision of restoring the country to perceived past glory.

“There is no force that can shake the foundation of this great nation,” Xi said from the Tiananmen rostrum where Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.

“No force that can stop the Chinese people and the Chinese nation forging ahead.”

The president also said that Beijing would stand by the One Country, Two Systems principle and maintain the long-term prosperity and stability of the Hong Kong and Macau SARs.

Helicopters flew in a “70” formation over the city as troops goosestepped across Tiananmen Square in what state media described as the country’s biggest ever military parade.

The People’s Liberation Army brought out its newest pieces of hardware, including the DF-41, a nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile with range enough to reach the entire United States, and the DF-17, a launcher for a hypersonic glider.

Warplanes soared through the smog-choked skies, and a high-altitude, high-speed reconnaissance drone made a public appearance for the first time, Xinhua reported.

“The party hopes that this occasion will add to its legitimacy and rally support at a time of internal and external challenges,” Adam Ni, China researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, said.

US trade war negotiations have dragged on, and African swine fever has raced through the country’s pig supply, sending pork prices soaring.

But the major headache is Hong Kong, where pro-democracy protesters hit the streets early in a bid to grab the spotlight from Beijing, with a series of rallies against what they see as the erosion of the city’s freedoms. (AFP)