China’s 70th anniversary commemoration of the victory in the Great War of Resistance, known in the West as World War II, is set to be a massive spectacle, with the list of international guests steadily building.
Russian and South Korean Presidents Vladimir Putin and Park Geun-hye are among the 30 world leaders who have confirmed participation, Chinese officials said on Tuesday in Beijing.
Obama ally and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has angered both Chinese and South Korean leaders by visiting a shrine that memorialises Japan’s war dead, along with convicted World War II criminals.
Apart from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff who is battling domestic opposition, the leaders of the BRICS states are expected to attend China’s parade next month to bolster ties.
Other heads of state and government leaders traveling to Beijing include President of Myanmar Thein Sein, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang and Choe Ryong-hae, a senior official of North Korea.
Zhang Ming, China’s Vice Foreign Minister, confirmed Japanese Premier Abe is not on the list of leaders attending the event next month.
“We have stressed several times that the celebrations are not targeting specific countries, not Japan, nor the Japanese people. It has no direct link to current Sino-Japanese relations,” said Zhang on Tuesday.
China’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, led to the death of some 20 million Chinese, according to Beijing’s estimates. It ended with Tokyo’s World War II defeat in 1945.
Chinese servicemen are conducting rehearsals for the massive parade on September 3 in Tian’anmen Square. More than 10,000 servicemen and servicewomen, about 500 military vehicles and nearly 200 aircrafts participated in the drills this weekend.
September 3 has been declared a public holiday in the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong.
A South China Morning Post report has said Beijing is aiming for “Apec blue” skies over the capital for second world war commemorations in September, with plans to revive tough air pollution restrictions introduced for the international summit last year.
Nearly 1,000 foreign troops from 17 countries, including Russia, Mexico, Kazakhstan, will participate in China’s military parade, a Chinese military spokesperson confirmed last week.
“Participation of a Chinese unit in the Victory parade on May 9, 2015 was a sign of gratitude to the victors’ valour and heroism,” the Russian Defence Ministry said in a statement.
“A Russian ceremonial squad is due to participate in the Victory Parade on Tiananmen Square on September 3,” it added.
Eleven countries will dispatch formations and another six send representative teams, said Qu Rui, a senior People’s Liberation Army (PLA) official.
Japan had formally surrendered on September 2, 1945, and China celebrated its victory the following day.
“Certain people in the West have always lacked an objective and just recognition of China’s position and role in the world anti-fascist war. The facts of history are that in the world’s war against fascism, the Chinese people’s war against Japan was an important component and played an important role in the eastern theater,” said Wang Shiming, deputy publicity chief of the ruling Communist Party’s Central Committee at a press conference in Beijing earlier.
Thousands of PLA (People’s Liberation Army) troops will march past the podium in central Beijing, followed by dozens of tanks and weapons systems, 84 per cent of those shown to the public for the first time.
Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe’s policies, including increasing the defense budget, lifting a ban on arms exports, visiting a shrine that memorialises Japan’s war dead, along with convicted World War II criminals and reinterpreting the pacifist constitution to allow Japan to defend other countries, have sparked concern in China and South Korea.
“The Chinese people will always remember those Russian soldiers and the people who died supporting the independence and liberation of the Chinese nation,” Chinese President Xi Jinping wrote in the state-run daily Russian Gazette in May this year.
“The Chinese and Russian people supported and fought alongside each other and forged friendship with blood and lives in the war against Fascism and militarism,” said Xi.
China’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, led to the death of some 20 million Chinese, according to Beijing’s estimates.
South African President Jacob Zuma hit back at the West’s boycott of the Victory Day celebrations in Moscow earlier in May saying the event “defines how the globe stands today”.
The annual Victory Day military parade through Red Square in Moscow marks the surrender of Nazi Germany and the Red Army’s key role in the defeat.
While Western leaders stayed away from the event, BRICS leaders Chinese President Xi Jinping and his South African and Indian counterparts Jacob Zuma and Pranab Mukherjee joined Putin at the parade and later while laying a wreath at the grave of the Unknown Soldier.
“When it comes to the commemoration today, it has been an overwhelmingly good day and a big day for the country, but I think for many of us. I think it defines how the globe stands today to some degree and I think it is very clear, and to have so many good friends come together,” Zuma told Putin later on May 9.
After Russia’s Victory Day celebrations in May marked a new east-west divide, the Tiananmen Square parade is also unlikely to witness the participation of western leaders.
Commenting on top leaders of the US, Britain and France not attending China’s celebrations, the Chinese Vice Foreign Minister said on Tuesday, “We have invited leaders of relevant countries to join the Chinese people to celebrate this great day. But it is their own decision. For us, we respect and welcome all guests.”