China's young and mysterious special forces are likely to grab plenty of attention on Oct 1 when they march in a military parade for the first time.
The elite troops, drawn for the assignment from the ranks of the Beijing Military Command Area, are currently completing intensive training at a parade village in Shahe, in northern Beijing, ahead of their first appearance - at the National Day parade celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of New China.
"This will be the first time we have attended such a parade," said Zhao Zemin, the square commissar. "We're honored to be taking part, but the practice has been difficult."
China's special forces, which were established in the 1980s, are among the newest branches in the People's Liberation Army (PLA).
The highly trained team is usually used for specialized operations where the risks are high, such as reconnaissance work, unconventional warfare, direct action and counterterrorism operations.
Ever since the force was founded, its members have kept relatively low key and, so far, representatives have not appeared in public at any of China's military parades, including the massive event in 1999 held to mark the People's Republic of China's 50th birthday.
Zhao said preparation for the Oct 1 parade had been particularly hard on the soldiers of the special forces because its members have focused in the past on tactical training and on handling emergencies but not on parade-ground training.