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Friday, September 4, 2015, 09:33

Xi reduces troops, pledges peace

By ZHAO HUANXIN in Beijing and ZHANG CHUNYAN in London
Xi reduces troops, pledges peace
President Xi Jinping inspects troops taking part in the parade in Chang’an Avenue. (Photo by chen jianli / XINHUA)

China staged a spectacular V-Day parade on Thursday morning in downtown Beijing, with President Xi Jinping pledging the country would cut troops by 300,000 and stick to a path of peaceful development.

“In the interest of peace, we need to foster a keen sense of a global community of shared future,” Xi said. “Prejudice, discrimination, hatred and war can only cause disaster and suffering, while mutual respect, equality, peaceful development and common prosperity represent the right path to take.”

“I announce that China will cut the number of its troops by 300,000.”

Xi made the remarks on the Tian’anmen Rostrum before the start of the parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) and the World Anti-Fascist War.

He was flanked by other Chinese leaders, Russian President Vladimir Putin, President of the Republic of Korea Park Geun-hye and other world dignitaries. Former Chinese presidents Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao were also present on the rostrum.

The event was attended by 30 foreign leaders and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, indicating that Beijing made the celebrations a global event, rather than a ceremony marking its own victories and sufferings.

Xi reduces troops, pledges peace
President Xi Jinping and first lady Peng Liyuan join heads of state, government leaders and representatives in a group photo before the victory commemorations start in Beijing on Thursday.

Xi said victory in the war against Japanese aggression was “the first complete victory” won by China in its resistance against foreign aggression in modern times.

This victory also re-established China as a major country in the world and won the Chinese people the respect of all peace-loving people around the globe, the president said.

“The Chinese people will always remember what the people of other countries did for victory in the war of resistance,” Xi said. “The experience of war makes people value peace even more.”

The president rode in a black limousine to inspect rows of troops and military hardware.

Then, 12,000 Chinese troops and 1,000 from 17 other countries, including Russia, marched in formation down Chang’an Avenue, followed by 27 armament formations. Most of the 500 pieces of weaponry and equipment had never been displayed in public before.

About 200 military aircraft took part in a highly choreographed display, with 20 helicopters flying in an array to form the number 70.

Parade participants included 100 Chinese veterans who fought against the Japanese invasion of China from 1937 to 1945. More than 100 foreign World War II veterans, anti-fascist fighters and their relatives were also invited.

Xi reduces troops, pledges peace

Chinese military personnel stand as invited guests watch a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. ( AFP PHOTO / POOL / ANDY WONG)

Allen Larsen, a former member of the Flying Tigers, a group of US airmen who piloted fighters to combat Japanese invaders, said on Wednesday 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.”

Rana Mitter, director of the University of Oxford China Center, told China Daily that many in the West do not remember that China was one of the important allies in World War II, along with the Soviet Union, Great Britain and the United States.

China’s contribution to the war was important and it should be remembered, Mitter said.

Xi reduces troops, pledges peace

Chinese People's Liberation Army personnel participate in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. ( AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER)

“This commemoration reminds people that China made very significant sacrifices to help bring about an ultimate Allied victory during the war. Without a Chinese contribution, the overall victory would have been much harder.”

During the war, China pinned down and fought against the main force of the Japanese. China’s military and the country’s civilians suffered 35 million casualties.

Japan surrendered to the Allies aboard the US battleship Missouri on Sept 2, 1945, and seven days later to the then-Chinese government in Nanjing.

In 1951, the Chinese government chose Sept 3 as victory day in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. Last year, the top legislature ratified it as a national memorial day.

Zhang Yunbi and Xinhua contributed to this story.

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