China's military parade to show off weaponry

BEIJING - China plans to show off a vast array of weaponry for the first time in a huge military show of strength next month to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II, the country's armed forces said Friday.

A total of 27 types of materiel used for ground and maritime attacks, air and missile defence and "strategic strike" will be on display at the event on September 3, Qu Rui, a general staff headquarters officer, told reporters.

All are "Chinese-made main battle equipment", Qu said, adding that 84 per cent will be shown for the first time.

"They represent the new development, new achievements and new images of the building of Chinese armed forces," he said.

The parade will include some 40 types of hardware numbering 500 pieces in total and 12,000 troops, he said, while almost 200 aircraft will also be on show.

Some planes would be from what Qu described as the "carrier-based aircraft echelon", suggesting that units from China's sole aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, will take part.

Troops from more than 10 countries will participate in the event, he said, although he only specifically identified Russia and Kazakhstan.

The conflict is officially known in the country as the "Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War".

Chinese President Xi Jinping attended a similar parade in Moscow in May commemorating victory over Nazi Germany and President Vladimir Putin is due to return the gesture by travelling to the Beijing event.

Putin is by far the most prominent world leader committed to attend, with leaders of most Western and Western-allied countries, including the United States and Japan, staying away amid concerns over Beijing's increasingly assertive actions in the region.

South Korean officials said Thursday that President Park Geun-Hye would attend the commemorations, but no final decision had been made on whether she will attend the showpiece parade itself.

Park's country, currently involved in its latest tense standoff with Chinese ally North Korea after the two sides exchanged artillery fire on Thursday, has a dynamic trade relationship with China but close security ties with the United States.

China has declared a national holiday for September 3 and financial markets will also be closed the following day.

As part of strict security measures, restrictions are being put in place around central Beijing, including closing the Forbidden City, Beijing's top tourist attraction, from Saturday until the day of the parade.

Factories have been closed and odd-even licence plate restrictions imposed on private vehicles to try to ensure clean air.

A raft of measures have also been declared for parade rehearsals this weekend, including traffic restrictions that have forced the cancellation of concerts at China's National Centre for the Performing Arts by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the renowned Soweto-based South African a cappella group, and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.