By Ben Blanchard
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s military complained on Tuesday that if it displayed new weapons at next week’s huge military parade in Beijing it would be seen as a “show of force”, and if it didn’t then it would be blamed for a lack of transparency.
President Xi Jinping will oversee a massive parade of the armed forces through central Beijing on Oct. 1 to mark 70 years since the establishment of Communist China, with state media promising that new missiles, aircraft and drones will be shown.
Xi has overseen an ambitious military modernisation programme and rising defence spending since he took power in late 2012. China has been frequently criticised by Washington and its allies for being overly secretive and a threat to regional stability.
Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Wu Qian, speaking at a news conference about the parade, said there were always certain people and forces who “liked to hype things up untruthfully” about the country’s military.
“In their heads they have an extremely strange logic: if the Chinese armed forces show off arms and equipment then it’s a ‘show of force’, and if they don’t then they ‘lack transparency,’” Wu said.
In the last seven decades, China’s military development has been plain for all to see, he added.
“We have no intention, and no need, to use a military parade as a ‘show of force,” said Wu. “The stronger we are, the more positive energy we can bring to world peace.”
China has been coy about exactly what new equipment it will put on display at the parade.
Attention in state media has focused on the Dongfeng-41 intercontinental ballistic missile that may be able to carry several nuclear warheads and reach the United States, supersonic drones and stealth fighters.
Tan Min, one of the senior officers overseeing parade preparations, told the same news conference that people would have to “wait and see” exactly what China would put on show.
Tan promised the equipment would all be made-in-China and show off the country’s prowess at innovation.
Service personnel taking part all have to reach exacting standards, including their absolutely loyalty to the party and to Xi, he added.
The youngest soldiers would be around 20, while the oldest – the more senior officers – would be around 60 and above, Tan said.
Around 15,000 personnel and more than 160 aircraft are taking part and the parade will last around 80 minutes, added Cai Zhijun, another senior officer helping oversee preparations.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)