China will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat in World War II on Thursday. The grand commemorations will be attended by 30 high-profile overseas leaders including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and the U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, says a report from the New York Times.
30 overseas leaders in China
However, the rest of the guest list is not that impressive, and includes leaders from countries such as Mongolia, Egypt and Venezuela. One name to note is Omar Al-Bashir, the President of Sudan. Al-Bashir has been accused by the International Criminal Court (ICC) of genocide and war crimes.
Beijing says 30 overseas leaders attending the event is a sign that the long undervalued contributions of China to the victory in 1945 are finally getting their proper due. A massive military parade will be the center of the festivities in China on Thursday. More than 12,000 troops, scores of warplanes and more than 500 pieces of hardware, including tanks, artillery and intercontinental ballistic missiles will be featured at this event.
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Around 70 years ago, Japan surrendered to the Allies aboard a U.S. naval ship, and the next day is marked as Victory of the Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and World Anti-Fascist War Day. Four years later, the nationalists who led the fight against Japan were overthrown by Mao Zedong’s Communists.
US, UK leaders not attending the event
High-level representatives from major western democracies such as the U.S., Britain, France and Australia are missing from the guest list. The forces of all these countries played an important role in the Allied victory. Many countries do not want to associate with this event because of recent aggressive moves by Beijing in asserting territorial claims in the region and its political repression at home. The event is also seen by many as merely an occasion to elevate the Communist Party and its leader, President Xi Jinping, on the world stage.
Of note, only retired government leaders are being sent by Britain, Germany and Japan. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is included in the list. Max Baucus, who is the US ambassador to China, will be the only person representing the U.S. The report also notes that Czech President Milos Zeman will be the only head of state from a European Union country to attend the event.
“I think one has to understand that there has always been an uneasiness (about) these kinds of military parades,” the EU’s top diplomat in Beijing, Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, said about the upcoming event.