The president of a college in north China’s Hebei province staged his own re-enactment of the country’s recent World War Two victory parade on Sunday, with himself playing the lead role.

New students starting at the school stood to attention in military attire to mark their graduation from mandatory “military training” before the start of classes.

Hebei college president's personal military parade
Hebei college president’s personal military parade. Photo: HKFP.

As school director Zhou Huazhen was driven around the school’s running track on the back of a white pick-up truck with the word “review” crudely printed on the side, he called out, “Hello, students! Hard-working students!”

President Xi had said “Hello, comrades! Hard-working comrades!” as he glided past the ranks of troops on Chang’an Avenue.

Students then yelled back in unison, “Hello, leader!”—the same words used by soldiers to address Xi during the capital’s military parade.

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All university students in mainland China are required to complete two weeks of military training before classes begin in autumn.

The training, however, typically involves few combat skills and no specially strenuous physical activity, focussing instead on political and patriotic education, and instilling the collective spirit.

Ryan Ho Kilpatrick is an award-winning journalist and scholar from Hong Kong who has reported on the city’s politics, protests, and policing for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, TIME, The Guardian, The Independent, and others