China bans flying pigeons, drones as Beijing preps for 70th anniversary military parade

China has banned flying pigeons and drones over central Beijing as the nation prepares for the ruling Communist Party’s 70th anniversary on Oct. 1.

The block on flying activities comes as China looks to increase flight safety during rehearsals for the festivities, which include a massive military parade. Training and racing pigeons are popular hobbies in China, with many Beijing neighborhoods housing pigeon coops atop their roofs.

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Military planes were spotted soaring above the parade route over the weekend as tanks and other military vehicles rolled along roads below. Onlookers could view the rehearsals from behind barriers set up a block away.

A helicopter carrying the Chinese flag flies above the central business district in Beijing on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

A helicopter carrying the Chinese flag flies above the central business district in Beijing on Sunday. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

More than 100,000 people will take part in the pageantry, which organizers have said will be larger than previous anniversary parades. China last held a military parade in 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. President Xi Jinping is expected to deliver a speech at the ceremony.

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The parade and associated ceremonies will be held at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to commemorate the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1, 1949, after Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist army was defeated in a civil war. The Nationalists retreated to the island of Taiwan, where they set up a rival government called the Republic of China.

A possible shadow hanging over the festivities may be the tumultuous protests in Hong Kong to preserve its autonomy from China. An extradition bill in June set off the protests after many saw it as an example of Beijing's increasing intrusion against their freedoms.

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Flying kites, balloons and lanterns were also banned in nearly half of the city’s 16 districts starting on Sept. 15, the Beijing municipal government said on its website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.