President Xi Announces Plan to Reduce Troops by 300,000 as China Holds V-Day Parade
President Xi Jinping on Thursday paid tribute to World War II veterans as he highlighted the significance of the victory in the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. He stressed that China is committed to peaceful development and announced that Chinese troops would be reduced by 300,000.
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Hundreds of armaments were put on display at the V-Day parade in Tian'anmen Square. Up to 84 percent of 40 types of weaponry displayed at the event were being shown to the public for the first time. Some of the most remarkable weapons on display were the J-15 fighter jet, the H-6K bomber, the Dongfeng-21D anti-ship ballistic missile, Dongfeng-31A solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles, and Dongfeng-5B intercontinental strategic missiles. Up to 200 fighter jets participated in the event and about 12,000 troops, veterans and about 1,000 troops from more than a dozen countries marched to mark the 70th anniversary of World War II. About 70,000 balloons and 70,000 doves were released at the end of the parade.
There had been concerns that the event would highlight anti-Japanese sentiment and disrupt regional ties. This is reportedly one of the main reasons why notable westerns leaders desisted from attending China's V-Day celebration.
"War is like a mirror," President Xi explained in his speech. "Looking at it helps us better appreciate the value of peace. Today, peace and development have become the prevailing trend, but the world is far from tranquil. War is the sword of Damocles that still hangs over mankind. We must learn the lessons of history and dedicate ourselves to peace."
China's Defense Ministry has announced that the cut in the size of the country's troops would be completed by 2017.
Some critics have accused China of symbolically announcing the meagre reduction in its military to diffuse attention from its vast weaponry on display. But Chinese military experts say the country's "high-profile weaponry" reflects its defensive military strategy.
"It's just like when you have a knife, you can use it either for offense of defense. It is your strategy behind that really matters," explained Chen Zhou, director of the National Defense Policy Research Center of the Academy of Military Sciences of China People's Liberation Army (PLA).