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China reduces forces as parade marks 70th anniversary of WWII victory

By Zhao Huanxin and Zhang Yunbi in Beijing (China Daily Europe) Updated: 2015-09-06 15:11

 China reduces forces as parade marks 70th anniversary of WWII victory

President Xi Jinping reviews the parade. Chen Jianli / Xinhua

 
 
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced a reduction of 300,000 troops in the nation's military forces, the country's fourth reduction in forces since reform and opening-up began in the late 1970s, as China's V-Day parade on Sept 3, celebrating the victory in World War II 70 years ago, began.

Making his speech on Tian'anmen Rostrum, he was flanked by Chinese leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and other world dignitaries. Former Chinese presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao were also present.

The victory over Japan was "the first complete victory" won by China in its resistance against foreign aggression in modern times, Xi said. It also reestablished China as a major country and won the Chinese people the respect of all peace-loving people around the world, he said.

"The experience of war makes people value peace even more," Xi said. "Regardless of the progress of events, China will never seek hegemony, China will never seek to expand and will never inflict the tragedies it suffered in the past upon others."

The country suffered 35 million military and nonmilitary casualties, accounting for a third of the total casualties of all the countries involved in WWII.

In addition to 12,000 Chinese troops, the spectacle featured 1,000 troops from 17 other countries, including Russia. Thirty national leaders and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon attended.

One hundred Chinese veterans - most aged above 90 - who fought against Japan's invasion of China from 1937 to 1945, were also invited to watch the parade. Invitees included a former member of the fabled Flying Tigers aviation brigade, a group of volunteer US airmen who piloted fighters to help defeat the invaders.

Allen Larsen, a Flying Tigers veteran, said in Beijing: "I arrived in China 71 years ago yesterday. ... It's a very important part of my life, and I shall never, never forget it."

Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, a guest at the parade, also said China made a big difference in World War II, but few Europeans are aware of it.

Since the middle of the past century, China has carried out such a giant military show only once a decade, with its most recent staged for the 60th National Day in 2009.

In the Sept 3 parade, China showcased its military sophistication by rolling out 27 armament formations. Most of the 500 pieces of weaponry had never been shown to the public before.

Major General Peng Guangqian, deputy secretary-general of the China Council for National Security Policy Studies, said the formations of the People's Liberation Army presented at the parade highlight its action-oriented training philosophy.

On Sept 2, 1945, Japan officially surrendered to the Allies aboard the USS Missouri and seven days later to the Chinese government in Nanjing.

Xinhua News Agency contributed to the story.

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