China parade to commemorate WW2 defeat of Japan

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China parade to commemorate WW2 defeat of Japan

Chinese People"s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers train before the military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, 03 September 2015.Much of the military equipment on show is being displayed for the first time

China is set to showcase its military might in a parade commemorating the defeat of Japan in World War Two.

Some 12,000 troops and 200 aircraft, as well as tanks and missiles, will go on display in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

More than 80% of the machinery will be shown in public for the first time, state media said.

China's growing military capabilities will be keenly watched amid geo-political tensions in the region.

President Xi Jinping, who is also commander of the armed forces, will be centre stage at the proceedings along with more than 30 foreign government officials and heads of state.

Graphic: China-US military balance

The BBC's China editor, Carrie Gracie, in Tiananmen Square, says the skies are perfectly blue rather than smoggy - after factories were closed, barbecues banned and cars stopped from travelling.

There are no balloons or pigeons around the square in case they disrupt the fly-past of military aircraft, she says.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korea's President Park Geun-hye and, controversially, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be the biggest names in attendance.

Many major leaders, including from the US, UK, Australia and Japan, have shunned the event.

"During a period of strained relations between China and Japan, as well as increasing military tension in the Asia-Pacific region, some leaders are reluctant to be associated with what they may view as a nationalistic, anti-Japanese mass rally," said Alexander Neill from the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in Singapore.

Chinese military vehicles drive along a street in Beijing during final preparations for a military parade, early Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015.

Celia Hatton, BBC News, Beijing: For sale - submarines, fighter jets, drones

China's victory parade is designed to be a grandiose demonstration of the country's military prowess. But it's also a useful opportunity for the Chinese military to showcase its wares.

A few months ago, China surpassed Germany to become the world's third largest arms supplier, according to the Stockholm Peace Institute.

"That shows the intention to showcase the progress of China's arms industry," explains Mathieu Duchâtel, head of the China and Global Security Project with the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

"In terms of exports, it will indicate the move of China as a major arms importer to a major exporter."

Arms sales from China have soared 150% in the past five years. For the first time, all of the armaments shown during the parade will be Chinese-made, with no Russian-made weapons on display.

Preparing for a parade - Trained monkey and banned pigeons

What does it signal? - Alexander Neill from IISS-Asia gives his views

China's People's Liberation Army is the world's largest military with 2.3 million members, and it also has the second biggest defence budget after the US.

Graphic: Top 15 military budgets

In the build-up to the event, state media have been publishing commentaries that reinforce Chinese patriotism and views on historical events.

Japan launched a full-scale invasion of China in 1937 and, according to Beijing, eight years of fighting claimed 14 million Chinese lives.

China also claims that it is the "forgotten ally" and that its role in defeating Japan has been underplayed in the post-war narrative.

Nationalist forces led the fight against Japan in China. They were defeated by Mao Zedong's Communists who proclaimed a people's republic in 1949.

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