Main­land ramps up pub­lic­ity for com­ing mil­i­tary pa­rade

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY CHRISTO­PHER BODEEN

Main­land China is ramp­ing up pub­lic­ity for its up­com­ing mas­sive mil­i­tary pa­rade com­mem­o­rat­ing the end of World War II, but main­land of­fi­cials still aren’t say­ing what other coun­tries are tak­ing part.

Pro­pa­ganda of­fi­cials es­corted for­eign jour­nal­ists Satur­day on a tour of a mil­i­tary base out­side Bei­jing, where troops are prac­tic­ing for the Sept. 3 spec­ta­cle that will fea­ture 12,000 sol­diers and 500 pieces of com­mu­nist China’s latest mil­i­tary gear.

Al­most 200 air­craft of about 20 dif­fer­ent types will also the part.

Re­porters ob­served hun­dreds of troops in dress uni­form and full bat­tle at­tire en­gag­ing in eight hours of daily march­ing prac­tice along a tar­mac strip sim­i­lar to the av­enue they will march down in the heart of Bei­jing.

With of­fi­cers watch­ing closely, they bal­anced on one foot be­fore step­ping for­ward on com­mand, then swiveled 90 de­grees to march back the way they’d come.

China says more than 10 coun­tries from Asia, Europe, Africa, the Amer­i­cas and Oceana will send con­tin­gents to join in, but has so far only iden­ti­fied Rus­sia and Kaza­khstan as among them.

The main­land in­sists the pa­rade is about mark­ing the 70th an­niver­sary of Ja­pan’s World War II sur­ren­der, remembering the sac­ri­fices of past gen­er­a­tions and de­mon­strat­ing its com­mit­ment to fu­ture peace.

“This is not about ex­tend­ing ha­tred, but about re­flect­ing on history and fac­ing the fu­ture,” the head trainer of the pa­rade’s in­fantry com­po­nent, Col. Liu Shi­jun, told re­porters.

De­spite that, the pa­rade is widely seen as a high-pro­file dis­play of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army’s fast­grow­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and comes as the main­land is grow­ing more ac­tive in as­sert­ing its ter­ri­to­rial claims in the South China Sea and the East China Sea.

Those moves have prompted its con­cerned neigh­bors to boost their own ca­pa­bil­i­ties, and the U.S. mil­i­tary to re­new its com­mit­ments to re­gional al­lies.

Main­land China says it has sent in­vi­ta­tions to nu­mer­ous heads of state but thus far only Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, Mon­go­lian Pres­i­dent Tsakhi­agiin El­beg­dorj, Egyp­tian Pres­i­dent Ab­delFat­tah el-Sisi and Czech Pres­i­dent Mi­los Ze­man have ac­cepted, along with uniden­ti­fied lead­ers from Cen­tal Asian states, ac­cord­ing to state media.

South Korean Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye has said she will at­tend a cer­e­mony mark­ing the an­niver­sary of vic­tory over Ja­pan in World War II, but aides says she re­mains un­de­cided on at­tend­ing the mil­i­tary pa­rade.

Par­tic­i­pa­tion is con­sid­ered prob­lem­atic be­cause many na­tions have re­cently ex­pressed con­cern over com­mu­nist China’s ag­gres­sive mil­i­tary moves. The main­land author­i­ties have also ac­tively courted in­ter­na­tional sup­port for their on­go­ing ri­valry with Ja­pan, which many Chi­nese say has never showed ad­e­quate con­tri­tion for its bru­tal World War II in­va­sion of China.

Main­land China’s last such mil­i­tary pa­rade was in 2009 to com­mem­o­rate the 60th an­niver­sary of the found­ing of com­mu­nist China on the main­land.

AP

Main­land Chi­nese troops prac­tice march­ing ahead of a Sept. 3 mil­i­tary pa­rade at a camp on the out­skirts of Bei­jing, Satur­day, Aug. 22.

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