China will celebrate 60 years of Communist Party rule on Thursday with a massive military parade passing by Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, where Mao Zedong proclaimed the People's Republic on October 1, 1949.

Here are some facts about the event, and related security steps surrounding it:

* The highlight is the military show of force. Compared with earlier parades, there will be less emphasis on tanks and marching soldiers and more on hardware designed to show China's modernization and military strength.

Rehearsals in recent weeks have seen tanks and missile launchers trundling through city streets. An air force fly-by will include aircraft flown by some of China's first female fighter jet pilots.

* The military has emphasized the precise training that went into the parade. Soldiers will march at an exact pace of 116 steps a minute and it will take each column one minute and six seconds to march past the top leaders at the main podium.

* About 100,000 ordinary Chinese citizens and some 80,000 primary and middle school students will also take part, holding banners and pictures lauding the country's achievements, dancing and doing other performances. Most people will be kept well away, though, behind a huge security cordon.

* There will be 60 floats representing everything from last year's Beijing Olympics to each of China's provinces, including self-ruled and democratic Taiwan, which has never been governed by the Communists.

* 18 air force planes will seed the clouds with an environmentally-friendly catalyst to prevent rain on October 1.

* Columns set up on Tiananmen Square represent each of China's 56 different ethnic groups, complete with anime-style cartoons of dancing couples.

* The government has issued nearly 1 million coupons to encourage people in the capital to watch patriotic films over the period to create the proper atmosphere for National Day.

* The city has been under tight security for weeks now, with roadblocks ringing the city, random identity checks on residents and bans on mailing any kind of powder or liquid.

* Beijing's international airport, the country's busiest, will close for three hours on the morning of October 1 to ensure the skies above the city are secure.

(Source: Chinese state media)

(Writing by Ben Blanchard and Lucy Hornby; Editing by Alex Richardson)