The sounding of bugles pierced through the wintry morning silence in the center of Beijing on the first day of 2018.
It also signaled the start of a new daily routine for the Guard of Honor of the Chinese People's Liberation Army to raise the national flag at Tian' anmen Square in Beijing. The stately ceremony was previously done by an armed police unit.
As eight soldiers on the Tian'anmen Rostrum blew the bugles, 96 soldiers began marching toward the square in the south, guarding a giant five-star red flag.
The procession was led by three officers clad in the Army, Navy and Air Force uniforms. Each of the three drew a sword upon walking past the Golden Water Bridge connecting the Forbidden City and the Chang'an Avenue.
More than 90,000 people waited for hours at Tian'anmen Square in the cold wintry morning just to be part of the ceremony, watching the national flag being raised in the heart of Beijing on the first day of the new year.
At 7:34, the flag was ready to be hoisted.
"Salute to the flag!" one of the lead officers shouted.
The military band began playing the national anthem. The giant red flag was unfurled and rose along the post as the sun rose on the horizon.
When the red flag reached the top of the post, the crowd at the square clapped and cheered. The band played "Ode to the Motherland."
(Xinhua News Agency January 1, 2018)