China displayed its partnerships with countries around the globe and its military might in a spectacular Parade on 3rd September, 2015 commemorating the victory over Japan in Second World War. Chinese officials said that the parade aimed to remember the history and cherish the memory of martyrs.
China suffered Japanese invasion both before and during the Second World War. Japan started invading China in 1937, the Second World War started in 1939, and in 1945, Japan surrendered to the allied powers, of which China was a part. Although the U.S.’s nuclear attack on Japan was not the only reason behind Japan’s surrender, but the attack was largely helpful to reach such an end. Japan signed its formal Second World War surrender on 2nd September, 1945, and China celebrated its victory the following day. Since then, China celebrates the day every year. However, this year China took the celebration to a different height by showcasing its military might through a Parade, revealing its military ties with other national armies, and exhibiting its political sphere of influence.
In his speech at the Parade, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced the plan to reduce the Chinese military force by 300,000, meaning that the world’s largest military force (in respect of its number of troops) would be reduced by more than 10 percent. Chinese armed forces will be reduced from 2.3 million service members to 2 million. It is worth mentioning that Chinese troops numbered 6.27 million back in October 1949. There is no other country that has made so many reductions in number of troops on such large scales. The promised reduction have proven wrong the so-called “China Threat” theory which is being hyped up every now and then by the western media. The reductions also demonstrate that China is not chanting empty slogans when saying the Parade and celebrations are aimed partly at cherishing peace.
Besides China, delegates of 17 national armies took part in the Parade, including troops from Egypt, Pakistan, Russia and some central Asian and Latin American countries with which China’s cooperation reached the height. China’s victory day celebration hosted many top leaders from around the globe. Among them the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and former British prime minister Tony Blair are worth mentioning.
Western media reactions
Most of the U.S. newspapers focused on the announcement of reductions of 300,000 troops. Some other western media focused on the new Chinese military hardware that was unveiled in the Parade for the first time to the global public and reported that the U.S. military is particularly concerned about the DF-21D missile.
Some news intended to incite China’s neighbours in the sense that such news tried to establish that the modern Chinese military hardware were designed to protect Chinese maritime claims in the South China and East China Seas. Such news would ofcourse make China’s neighbours, who have competing claims in those areas, to perceive China as hostile to their interests.
In an Article in Foreign Policy magazine, Sergey Radchenko went as far as saying that China did not win the Second World War, and for China, 1945 brought more suffering and humiliation, and not glory. He further argued that the nuclear attack on Japan by the U.S. was the only reason behind Japan’s defeat.
What did China want to achieve out of the event?
Although the Parade projects China’s intension to remain at the core of the global anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggle, such a geopolitical move by China is meant to achieve a greater goal. From the Parade, a clear message was sent to the global powers that China has to be accommodated in the global decision-making process and China has to be taken seriously in every major geopolitical decision. China, through the showcase in the Parade of its military might alongwith the showcase of its political sphere of influence, aimed to send a message to individual countries that countries around the globe may, without any fear, align with China as China has the military capability to defend itself and others, and has the support from a greater section of top-level leaders around the globe to do so. China also wanted to make an impression infront of the world at large that CHINA ROSE ALREADY, and IT IS HERE TO SUSTAIN ITS RISE.
Hosting Putin as the chief guest is an acknowledgement of the depth of Sino-Russian partnership and also reflects China’s willingness to continue cooperation with Russia in the face of intensification of international elite-states’ efforts against Russia. Moreover, the importance of such a Parade was time-honoured by the presence of the South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Her presence at the Parade reflects the fact that Park’s government is leaning toward China at the expense of the U.S.
Moreover, regarding the reduction in number of military personnel, President Xi said that such a policy is in the interests of peace. He affirmed that China neither have any interest in scheming against its neighbours nor have any intension of expansion that would harm other countries. Indeed, the decision to reduce the troops not only depicts China’s determination to defend peace, but also offers a concrete measure to maintain regional and world peace.
President Xi also said that Chinese people love peace and no matter how much stronger it may become, China will never seek hegemony. However, many western Analysts had already termed such statement as contradictory, since according to them, China is, in one side, displaying to the world its increasing the military might; on the other side, China’s President says China does not seek hegemony. From such interpretation of the western Analysts, it seems that the western Analysts failed to interpret President Xi’s statement well. China’s military modernization is, in reality, aimed at defending peace. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) would not act militarily at all, unless (i) it is required to safeguard China’s national security, or (ii) the security environment compels China to act militarily in order to maintain peace and stability in the Asia Pacific region and the globe.
China, through the parade, wanted to exhibit China’s military might. The participation of 17 other national armies in the Parade exhibits depth of Chinese military’s relations with other national militaries; and President Xi’s speech exhibits China’s intension to defend and uphold peace. Through the presence of top leaders and officials from around the globe, China wanted to demonstrate China’s political sphere of influence. No doubt China successfully displayed that China was not only a victorious party of the Second World War, but it is also a top player in today’s global geo-politics and a modern military power on a global scale.
Bahauddin Foizee is an international affairs analyst, and writes on Middle Eastern, greater Asia-Pacific & European geopolitics. Also a campaigner for environmental and social awareness, Bahauddin Foizee occasionally writes on environment and refugee issues.