First Female Generals to Lead a Phalanx in China’s Military Parade


On October 1st, 2019, China celebrated its National Holiday with nation-wide events as well as the annual military parade in Tiannamen Square. Each year, phalanxes (basically groups of soldiers moving in formation) would parade in front of government officials and thousands of people who have gathered to watch, and every year they would be inspired and awed by the sight. For me personally, because my family didn't live in Beijing, ever since I was little my parents and I would tune in on the military parade in front of the television- and most other Chinese families did the same.

What was special about this year's parade, however, was the sight of a phalanx comprised of 352 all-female soldiers led by two female generals. Since the confederation of China, it has always been male generals who had the honor of leading a phalanx, but for the first time ever, female generals Cheng Xiaojian and Tangbing were able to do so.

Both women have been extremely involved in disaster relief all around the country. Cheng in particular has directed relief planes through the years at various natural disaster sites in China. In may of 2008, Wenchuan, Szechuan in China went through the tragedy of a severe Earthquake that took the lives of many. No one was able to direct relief aircraft from the ground and the aftermath of the earthquake was causing extreme weather conditions. From May 14th to June 24th, despite the extreme conditions and dangers at the site of the disaster, Cheng stayed 42 days to direct planes, some flown by herself, to airdrop more than 700 tons of relief items done over 100 round trips.  Most heroes go unnamed, but as I watched these two strong women lead their phalanx of female soldiers as young as 24 years old, I know they would come to inspire generations of girls who will feel empowered learning about the accomplishments of these women. How they selflessly serve the country, putting those in need before themselves, doing their best to improve the lives of those affected by natural and human disasters- all of which are worth no less than the deeds of named heroes.