Chinese Military Helicopters Spotted Flying in the Shape of '100'

Chinese military helicopters and fighter jets have been spotted flying in neat formations above the skies of northern China in likely preparations for this summer's Communist Party anniversary.

Officials planning the milestone event marking 100 years since the party's founding previously announced there would not be a traditional military parade at the ceremony kicking off in Beijing on July 1.

However, an image captured by a social media user in the city of Baoding, in the central Hebei province, showed 29 military helicopters flying at low altitude and forming the number "100"—an apparent reference to the upcoming centennial.

The picture taken on Sunday appears to feature both Z-10 and Z-19 attack helicopters. Both models are currently in use by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Ground Force.

The Weibo users's sighting of the rehearsal is the latest hint that the Chinese leadership is planning to involve the military for the 100th anniversary celebrations, even if it will not involve a full-scale parade like the one seen during the National Day Parade on October 1, 2019, to mark 70 years of the People's Republic of China.

Chinese Military Helicopters Fly In Number 100
This image shared to China's Twitter-like service Weibo on May 16, 2021, shows 29 People's Liberation Army helicopters flying in formation to create the figure "100" above the skies of Baoding, Hebei, China. The training may be part of preparations for this summer's Chinese Communist Party centennial, which begins in Beijing on July 1. Weibo

On China's popular short-video platforms Douyin and Kuaishou—called TikTok and Kwai in English-speaking markets—residents in Hebei had also recorded similar scenes in the past two months.

A Douyin video dated April 20 featured a formation of PLA helicopters flying in the shape of a "0," while a Kuaishou clip from May 7 showed the same type of aircraft forming a "10."

According to Taiwan's Central News Agency, China's ruling party may not be planning a traditional military parade on Tiananmen Square in Beijing or at Zhurihe Training Base in Inner Mongolia. However, it is possible that military aircraft will fly over the ceremony as part of the celebrations.

The military air show is likely to feature warplanes carrying colored smoke, it said.

Reports have also carried sightings of 15 J-20 fighter jets flying in three V-shaped formations in the skies above the port city of Tianjin—roughly 75 miles southeast of Beijing. However, related images appear to have been wiped from Chinese social media sites.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government and the Communist Party of China maintain there will be no military parade in July.

Announcing plans for the celebrations on March 23, members of the party's Central Committee said Chinese leader Xi Jinping is to give an "important speech."

Wang Xiaohui, deputy head of the party's publicity department, told reporters that China now boasted the "largest Marxist ruling party in the world" with 91.91 million card-carrying members as of December 2019.

Outstanding members are to be given specially commissioned medals as part of the celebrations this summer, which will also include performances, exhibitions, seminars and symposiums about the party and its history.

The 2-million-strong Chinese military, meanwhile, will remain at their stations during the centennial. However, each soldier will be drilled in absolute loyalty to Xi, said Li Jun, who is with the Central Military Commission's Department of Political Work.

The campaign will teach soldiers to be "loyal to the core," he added, focusing on the ideologies of Xi Jinping Thought.