Ma­jor Western lead­ers shun China WWII pa­rade

The China Post - - LIFE GUIDE POST -

From Be­larus to Van­u­atu, main­land China on Tues­day is­sued a list of world lead­ers at­tend­ing next week’s huge mil­i­tary pa­rade to mark Ja­pan’s de­feat in World War II that was no­table for its ab­sences.

The dis­play, a show of strength which comes as Bei­jing takes a more as­sertive stance re­gion­ally, will see 12,000 sol­diers and 500 pieces of hard­ware roll through Tianan­men Square, with al­most 200 air­craft fly­ing over­head.

Main­land Chi­nese of­fi­cials listed 24 heads of state and gov­ern­ment as at­tend­ing, with Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, South Korea’s Park Geun-Hye and South Africa’s Ja­cob Zuma among the most prom­i­nent. U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon will also go.

No­table among the ab­sen­tees on the list was North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has yet to visit Bei­jing de­spite China be­ing his coun­try’s key diplo­matic pro­tec­tor.

Py­ongyang was send­ing polit­buro mem­ber Choe Ry­ong Hae, of­fi­cials said.

“It is up to for­eign coun­tries to de­cide on who to send,” said Zhang Ming, a deputy for­eign min­is­ter. “As the old Chi­nese say­ing goes, ‘any­one who comes is our guest.’ We welcome them all.”

Com­mu­nist China gen­er­ally shies away from the vast an­nual demon­stra­tions of mil­i­tary might that were a hall­mark of the Soviet Union, nor­mally hold­ing such events once a decade to mark the foun­da­tion of the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic.

It has strug­gled to at­tract world­wide in­ter­est for the pa­rade as world lead­ers are wary of the tone of the event, and the risk of lend­ing it le­git­i­macy.

Bei­jing is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly as­sertive in the re­gion and regularly ac­cuses Tokyo of fail­ing to show suf­fi­cient con­tri­tion for Ja­pan’s 20th-cen­tury in­va­sion of China.

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.”

Zhang told re­porters: “The com­mem­o­ra­tions do not tar­get any spe­cific coun­try, not to­day’s Ja­pan nor the Ja­panese peo­ple in gen­eral.”

But nei­ther Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe nor any of­fi­cial rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Tokyo will go. For­mer prime min­is­ter Tomi­ichi Mu­rayama — who is­sued a land­mark apol­ogy for the war in 1995 — will be present in a per­sonal ca­pac­ity.

The only Euro­pean Union head of state or gov­ern­ment named as at­tend­ing was Czech Pres­i­dent Mi­los Ze­man.

France and Italy will send their for­eign min­is­ters, of­fi­cials said, but the gov­ern­ments of the U.S., Ger­many and Canada will be rep­re­sented only by their res­i­dent am­bas­sadors.

For­mer Bri­tish prime min­is­ter Tony Blair will at­tend, but not in an of­fi­cial ca­pac­ity.

A to­tal of 17 coun­tries are send- ing troops to take part, in­clud­ing Rus­sia, Cuba, Ser­bia and Mexico, along with sev­eral of China’s neigh­bors.

Main­land Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping at­tended a sim­i­lar pa­rade in Moscow in May com­mem­o­rat­ing vic­tory over Nazi Ger­many.

Xi and Putin hold fre­quent sum­mits and their coun­tries, both per­ma­nent mem­bers of the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil, of­ten take sim­i­lar stances there on di­vi­sive is­sues such as the con­flict in Syria.

China’s Com­mu­nists were largely an un­der­ground force dur­ing World War II, with the brunt of the cam­paign against the Ja­panese fought by sol­diers of the coun­try’s then Na­tion­al­ist gov­ern­ment led by Chi­ang Kai-Shek.

AP

Main­land Chi­nese fe­male troops prac­tice march­ing near a bill­board show­ing main­land Chi­nese leader Xi Jin­ping and the slo­gan “Strive to build a Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army that obeys the Party, Wins the war and has out­stand­ing work style” at a camp on the out­skirts of Bei­jing, Satur­day, Aug. 22.

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