Foreign observers are surprised that North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un opted not to feature intercontinental ballistic missiles in a grandiose military parade, in stark contrast to similar events that the nation held in the past.
With tensions once again on the rise, a parade featuring the very missiles that so unnerved Trump a year ago, and led to a unsafe volley of insults from both leaders, could be seen as a deliberate provocation.
Beijing is its neighbour's key diplomatic protector and trade partner, and after years in the deep freeze over the North's weapons ambitions ties have warmed rapidly this year, with Kim visiting China three times to meet President Xi Jinping.
Kim Jong Un and his South Korean counterpart Moon will meet in Pyongyang on September 18-20 for the third time this year and discuss "practical measures" toward denuclearization, officials in Seoul have said. "We will both prove everyone wrong!"
The two-hour parade saw thousands of people from all walks of life, including soldiers, workers, peasants and students, march through the square, waving flowers and shouting slogans such as "Long live supreme leader Kim". "Much better than before I took office", Trump tweeted.
"This is a big and very positive statement from North Korea", he added.
Some defectors and human rights activists criticize North Korea's group performances, including the Mass Games and military parades, for glossing over the country's human rights record and placing extreme demands on performers, especially children.
In his New Year's message in January, Kim had pledged to celebrate the country's 70th anniversary with "utmost grandness" after declaring the completion of nuclear capability and vowing to shift its focus to economic development. An end-of-war declaration would only be a first step toward an eventual peace treaty, but many in Washington fear such a declaration could be used to undermine the legitimacy of the US troop presence in South Korea.
Such set-piece dates are a mainstay of the North's political calendar and have for years been opportunities to demonstrate progress in its quest for a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States.
Although North Korea stages military parades nearly every year, and held one just before the Olympics began in South Korea in February this year, Sunday's parade came at a particularly sensitive time. Kim got to the bargaining table in part by vowing not to resume nuclear tests, and he could use peace talks to legitimize his regime and get global sanctions relaxed.
If you flick through Juche, a glossy North Korean magazine whose title refers to the country's official ideology of self-reliance, you will find photo after photo of Kim Jong-un being shown around factories.
Analysts closely watched for pronouncements by Kim that could suggest a new challenge to the US or a willingness to compromise. Kim waved to the crowd before leaving but did not make any public remarks.
But instead Xi will be represented by Li Zhanshu, the head of China's parliament and a member of the Communist Party's politburo standing committee, the most powerful body in the country.
Although China provided crucial backing to United Nations sanctions previous year, Trump has since accused Xi of relaxing pressure in retaliation over their trade disputes.
"Overall, a scaled-down "non-escalatory" parade assumes that they're sticking with the plan to maintain talks with the United States and Republic of Korea", she said. Floats on unification passed by a throng of North Koreans waving unified Korea flags. "North Korea has the economic problems and there are people unhappy with that".