However, when veterans parades in downtown Beijing this week to commemorate the anniversary of the war victory, they will be guided by one of the most advanced global satellite navigation systems in the world.
The Beidou system, developed by China, will facilitate the parade from space, the first time that it will be deployed for a military parade.
When China carried out its military parade on the 60th national day in 2009, the Beidou system only had three satellites in operation. But now, to commemorate the 70 th anniversary of the end of the second world war on 3 September, Beidou will have about 20 satellites.
Yang Hui, Beidou Chief Designer, says that the supervision of the parade will be easier and more efficient thanks to high precision, the accuracy of positioning and navigation and Beidou opportunity functions.
Wang Shun, Deputy Chief of general staff of the military district of Beijing, said at a recent press conference that trials of the parade used positioning technology and high precision measurement.
"These technologies have greatly improved the quality and efficiency of trials," says Yang Hui.
Unlike the GPS, the Beidou users may report their positions. This special feature was a fortunate result of a lack of funding during the development of the first generation of the Beidou system.
Positioning and navigation require two satellites and the ground station computer. A user needs to submit a request for position to the ground station via satellites to determine its location. As a result, the ground station may also contact the user, whereas GPS cannot. "The merit of GPS is to keep secret the position," says Yang.
The parade will have the participation of around 12,000 people of 50 formations. "It is impossible to coordinate the parade only with oral orders. However, if all are equipped with a browser Beidou, its position can be projected on a screen so that commanders observe and guide".
China began developing the Beidou satellite navigation system in 1994, two decades after the United States developed the GPS system.
The construction of the Beidou satellite navigation system followed a "strategy of three stages". The first consisted in the construction of the system of navigation experimental satellite in 2000, the second, the construction of the system of regional navigation in 2012, and the third, allow system to cover every corner of the planet by 2020.
China has achieved the first two phases, which became the third country in the world to have a system of navigation and positioning independent satellite after the United States and Russia.
The accuracy of positioning of the Beidou navigation satellite has reached a level of approximation of centimeters, with the help of ground facilities. "The next generation of Beidou will rival with the next generation of GPS in terms of accuracy", said Yang.
Beidou has played an important role on several occasions. After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, the system was used to transmit information to the command of emergency when other telecommunications failed.
Its use now extends to industries such as transportation, fishing marina, prognosis of climate, hydrological monitoring, surveying and mapping, as well as smart phones and vehicle navigation.
The satellite navigation Beidou also has been introduced in countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) such as Laos, Brunei and Pakistan.