China denies parade held to flex military muscles

China denies parade held to flex military muscles
PHOTO: Reuters

People's Daily, the Communist Party of China's official newspaper, has forcefully repudiated suggestions that China is showing off its military muscle and that too much is being spent on the commemorative ceremony and military parade on Thursday in Beijing.

As 12,000 Chinese troops and their counterparts from about 10 countries prepare to march through Tian'anmen Square, and final preparations for showcasing the latest military hardware are made, People's Daily said there are three questions that should be answered.

Ever since it was announced that a military parade would be staged on Sept 3, a new Chinese holiday to commemorate victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45), speculation grew over whether the cavalcade was designed to flex military muscle, the paper said.

"As the authorities recently lifted the curtain on the parade, announcing that thousands of soldiers, around 200 aircraft and 500 pieces of military equipment will be reviewed, voices are getting stronger that China was demonstrating military power to foreign countries, including the United States."

That perception is misguided, People's Daily said: "What China aims to demonstrate through the parade is the determination and capability of safeguarding justice and peace with 84 per cent of its modern equipment on display."

The paper added that parade formations will include veterans who took part in the war against Japan's invasion and the offspring of those who died in the war to honour the victory won by the concerted effort of the whole Chinese nation.

"Thirty VIP guests include mostly heads of state or government and senior representatives from 19 foreign countries. They will attend the ceremony and review the parade," it said. "Formations and teams from 17 countries will be reviewed, which will remind people that China was the main battlefield of the east during World War II and demonstrate the historical status of China as a victorious nation."

The newspaper also denied allegations in Japanese media that the military parade is a warning message to deter Japan, saying that the event is an alert for all to remember the bitter experience during the war, which ended 70 years ago.

"Japan is also obliged to review that chapter of history because Japan was an invader. The Japanese people were also the victims of the war. The Chinese stance is clear that the Japanese people should not be associated with militarism," it said.

"Japan was invited to join the event, which itself is a manifestation of China's generosity. The parade does not intend to deter any particular country.

"If the parade has to be labelled as a deterrent for certain groups, it aims at militarists who deny and distort historical facts and people who sabotage peace."

In response to the accusation that large amounts of government money had been invested in the parade rather than spent on the considerable number of poverty-stricken people in China, People's Daily said the worthiness of staging such an event should not be demeaned with excuses of other important issues on the government agenda.

"It will give Chinese people the opportunity to reacquaint themselves with the invaluable lessons that history teaches and serve as a tremendous fillip to the confidence of 1.3 billion people in looking at the country's future."

In addition, the parade is prepared under the rule of austerity, it said, adding that soldiers live in renovated old barracks and are trained with existing weapons and equipment.

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