Massive parade in China to mark WWII anniversary

Beijing is in the final stages of preparations for a massive parade Thursday that will show off some of its newest military hardware and mark China's celebration of the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. Tens of millions of Chinese lost their lives in the war.

In Communist China, it's not just the parade that's finely choreographed -- it's everything.

Call the beautiful skies "parade blue," reports CBS News correspondent Seth Doane. In a city plagued by pollution, having blue skies is not left up to chance: Nearly 2,000 Beijing factories have been partially or fully shut down, some for upwards of two weeks.

Cars? Not today. Half of the area's vehicles have been taken off roads.

The military is even using falcons and monkeys to fend-off birds to make sure nothing disturbs its planes flying overhead.

State TV was allowed to see the final rehearsals. Twelve-thousand troops will be taking part, and some of the newest military equipment will be unveiled. The parade will commemorate the end of WWII, with special emphasis on the Japanese surrender. Japan and China have had a frosty diplomatic relationship for years.

"It's a made-for-TV military parade, and absolutely nothing can go wrong," said Richard McGregor, author of "The Party," which examines the ruling communist regime.

"This is the largest military parade in modern Chinese history... It says in many respects that China has arrived -- not just as an economic power, but a global military and diplomatic power as well," McGregor added.

But it comes at a tough time. The deadly industrial blast in Tianjin and the slipping Chinese stock market have exposed government weaknesses.

"I think the parade, in as much as party needs distraction, is a fantastic distraction," McGregor said.

The party is also trying to control the dialogue. The China Digital Times published gag orders to state media. One reads, "All news and comments related to the military parade must be carefully reviewed ... to guarantee they are positive." Another directive seen by CBS News states there should be "no comments ... on which leader is or is not coming."

Russian President Vladimir Putin will be there, as well Egypt's Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Sudan's Omar al-Bashir, who's wanted for alleged war crimes by the international criminal court.

CBS News' view from the balcony overlooks the parade route, but we received a "notice to tenants" saying that, during the parade, we won't be able to stand there. We also can't have guests there, nor can we open windows or take pictures.