President Xi Jinping will use a World War II victory parade to showcase new weapons systems, a Chinese general said, amid growing regional concern about the country’s military reach.
The Tiananmen Square pageant on Sept. 3 marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender will feature domestically made military hardware, Major General Qu Rui said on Tuesday at a briefing in Beijing. Much of the equipment will make its public debut at the event to be presided over by Xi, Qu said without elaborating.
The People’s Liberation Army will use the parade to highlight a modernization push that the U.S. Defense Department said last month was producing an arsenal with “the potential to reduce core U.S. military technological advantages.” The country’s growing naval might in particular has helped spur the region’s largest military buildup in decades around the disputed East China Sea and South China Sea.
China became the world’s third-largest exporter of arms after the U.S. and Russia in the five-year period ending last year, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
China has invited foreign troops to attend the parade, Qu said, without specifying which nations would be represented. Last month, Xi joined Russian President Vladimir Putin for a similar military parade in Moscow’s Red Square marking the defeat of Nazi Germany. Absent from the event were Western leaders including U.S. President Barack Obama.
Veterans of Nationalist forces, who fought the Japanese alongside the Communist Party before the two sides clashed in the civil war, would be invited to the parade in Beijing, Qu said.
China has declared Sept. 3 a national holiday amid party efforts to focus attention on Japan’s wartime legacy. Japan signed a formal surrender on Sept. 2, 1945, which China celebrated the following day.
— With assistance by Zheng Wu, and Ting Shi