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China flexes military muscle to commemorate defeat of Japan in WW2

media Soldiers of the People's Liberation Army look from behind their weapons during the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War 2. Reuters/Damir Sagolj

China demonstrated its military might at a huge parade in Beijing on Thursday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Japan's World War 2 defeat. The highest profile guest at the parade, which featured 12,000 troops and hundreds of tanks and missiles, was Russian President Vladimir Putin.

According to Roderic Wye, who is an associate fellow at Chatham House and an expert on China’s domestic politics and international relations, China wanted to send messages both domestically and to the outside world.

“China wants to show how the present Chinese state emerged from the war against Japan, led by the Chinese Communist Party to take its place among the leading nations of the world,” he told RFI.

He added that it’s a nationalistic appeal to the Chinese people at a time when the Chinese economy is not doing so well and comes just after the disaster in Tianjin.

China also wants to show it is able and prepared to stand up for its interests around the world, and that it is not going to be threatened or bullied by any other major power, Wye said.

Meanwhile, Japan said it was disappointed that there were no signs of rapprochement in Chinese President Xi Jinping's speech at the event.

Professor Kristin Surak, who is a senior lecturer at SOAS University of London, said that a military parade to commemorate the end of war is hardly a celebration of peace at the end of hostility.

“For Japan, it comes under the realm of symbolic politics and the flexing of muscles that has been going on for the past couple of years, largely around the disputed Senkaku Islands,” she said.

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