China displays military prowess but cuts PLA troops

RSTV Bureau
Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) with former Chinese President Jian Zemin (C) and former Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate, in Beijing, Sept. 3, 2015.  Photo - PTI

Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping (L) with former Chinese President Jian Zemin (C) and former Chinese President Hu Jintao (R) during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate, in Beijing, Sept. 3, 2015.
Photo – PTI

China showed off its military strength in a victory parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of China’s victory over Japan in World War II.

Heads of state and government officials of more than 24 foreign nations were present at the ceremony. Russian President Vladimir Putin and UN General Secretary Ban-Ki-moon were present but Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and several other western leaders stayed away.

Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is also the commander of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), kick-started the celebration with an inaugural speech.

China presented a lavish parade showing a total of 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military equipment including tanks and missiles, and almost 200 aircrafts that included advanced fighter jets and bombers. It was a highly-choreographed 90-minute spectacle at Tiananmen Square. Reports also say that about 80 per cent of the machinery was being displayed to the general public for the first time.

Interestingly, it is on this day that President chose to announce a cut in PLA’s troops. President Jinping announced that China will cut down PLA’s troops by 3 lakh.

“I announce that China will cut its number of troops by 300,000,” Xi said without announcing a time frame to the cut.

As of now PLA has 2.3 million troops, which makes it the world’s largest army. PLA’s strength has gradually been reduced over the years. In 1980, PLA had 4.5 million troops and in 1985 the Army was reduced to the current 2.3 million figure.

The cut in the number of troops comes on the back drop of massive anti-corruption drive. About 40 high ranking military officials including two former Vice Chairmen of the Central Military Commission (CMC) are facing anti-corruption probes in an unprecedented revamping of the army.

China is locked in a major maritime standoff in South China Sea with several East Asian countries that are backed by the US. China is also in dispute with Japan in the East China Sea.

“Preventing historical tragedy from happening again is the best way to honour those losing their lives for freedom, justice and peace, Xi while referring to the Japanese Aggression.

Japan launched its military invasion in northeast China in September 1931 and started a full-scale aggression on July 7, 1937 when its troops launched an attack on the Lugou Bridge on the outskirts of Beijing. China suffered over 35 million casualties and the Soviet Union lost more than 27 million lives during the war. On Sept. 2, 1945, Japan signed its formal surrender and since then China has been celebrating its victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance on September 3.