China Commemorates Anniversary of the end of WWIISeptember 3, 2015 in China
As China commemorates the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II with a massive parade through the centre of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, President Xi Jinping has shocked world leaders by announcing his intention to cut 300,000 troops from the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA). While he gave no timeframe for this reduction in China’s military might, it is worth remembering that even with 300,000 fewer troops, Xi and his successors will still be able to command a force of around 2 million troops, the world’s largest standing army by a substantial margin. Xi gave no reason for the cutback, instead stating enigmatically that the PLA’s mission was to defend China and “uphold the sacred task of ensuring world peace.”
In a speech which preceded a highly choreographed show of 12,000 marching troops, missiles, tanks and jet fighter flyovers, Xi stressed China’s commitment to peace and regional security. Despite the enormous and slightly contradictory show of military muscle, Xi maintained that hegemony and expansion were the furthest things from his mind. “We Chinese love peace. No matter how much stronger it may become, China will never seek hegemony or expansion. It will never inflict its past suffering on any other nation,” Xi said to the crowd of handpicked guests, including 1,000 foreign troops who for the first time had been allowed to take part in the parade.
In spite of his protestations that China will remain committed to peaceful development, the thrust of his speech and the parade which followed it could not have been clearer. It sent a message to those at home and abroad – especially to Japan – that China’s military might, and his own abilities as a statesman and commander-in-chief, should not be underestimated.