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Zhang Yimou to plan Communist China birthday party

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese movie director Zhang Yimou will organise gala celebrations for the 60th anniversary of Communist China after dazzling the world with his Beijing Olympic opening and closing ceremonies, state media said on Friday.

Zhang Yimou, movie director and the director of the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games, is seen during the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in this March 12, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV/Files

The Oscar-nominated 57-year-old would team up with one of his Olympic deputies, a director from the country’s “elite army arts troupe”, for the Oct. 1 celebrations, which will include a massive military parade through the heart of Beijing, the China Daily said on Friday.

Zhang, once the bad-boy of Chinese cinema whose movies were sometimes banned at home while popular overseas, has since become a darling of the Communist Party, despite long being a subject of tabloid gossip for alleged trysts with his actresses.

His Games opening ceremony spectacular, involving tens of thousands of performers and a massive fireworks display, was widely acclaimed in China and abroad, but some Western commentators objected to the use of goose-stepping army troops.

The gala celebrations will mark six decades since Mao Zedong declared that China had “stood up”, after the Communists’ Red Army defeated the United States-backed Kuomintang Nationalist Party forces in the 1945-1949 Chinese civil war.

Beijing plans to strengthen and widen its main artery, the landmark “Avenue of Long-lasting Peace”, to take greater pressure from tanks, missiles and other military hardware, local media said on Thursday.

The reinforcing work on the east-west road, which runs above a major subway line carrying hundreds of thousands of commuters every day, also follows the collapse of a subway tunnel in the eastern city of Hangzhou, which killed 17 people, and partial collapse of road near a major intersection on the Avenue of Long-Lasting Peace.

The procession will be a rare showcase of the country’s military might by a government that has been at pains to reassure the world that its soaring defence spending is in keeping with its pace of economic development.

Ministry of Defence spokesman Huang Xueping played down the country’s military build-up in a separate report in the China Daily.

“A defensive policy has been consistent in China ... It’s not a makeshift stance, but something that will never change,” Huang told the paper.

China sent two warships last month to bolster international efforts to protect ships from rampant piracy off the coast of Somalia.