Commemorating victory over Japan in World War Two, China demonstrated its military prowess with a lavish parade in the capital Beijing on Thursday (Sept. 3).
President Xi Jinping used the event in Tiananmen Square to announce that China will cut troop strength by 300,000 in the next two years. However, that would still leave it with an army of 2.3 million – the largest in the world.
The parade including more than 12,000 soldiers also showcased fighter jets, tanks and ballistic missiles, many never seen in public before.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attended but Japanese and most Western leaders shunned the event.
China’s government repeatedly said the parade was to remember the past and to remind the world of China’s huge sacrifices.
Xi insisted that China is committed to peace.
“Prejudice and discrimination, hatred and war can only cause disaster and pain”, he said, adding that peaceful cooperation was the only way to go.
And yet today China’s military assertiveness in the South China Sea, for example, fuels regional tensions and draws criticism from the United States.
Washington said on Wednesday it spotted five Chinese Navy ships in international waters in the Bering Sea, off the coast of Alaska.
Beijing’s official “Memorial Day for the Victory of The Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japan” came the day after the 70th anniversary of Tokyo’s WWII surrender.