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China marks 70th anniversary of end of WWII as President Xi Jinping vows country is dedicated to peaceful development and will 'never seek hegemony, expansion'

Chinese President Xi Jinping, dressed in a Mao suit, was flanked by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, as he presided over a a march past by more than 12,000 troops, accompanied by tanks, mobile missile launchers and nuclear warheads to mark 70 years since the end of the Second World War.

He surprised some observers by declaring that 300,000 troops would be cut from the 2.3 million-strong People’s Liberation Army – although the move is in line with China’s gradual switch of military focus from the land to its growing navy. Also in line with much of the advance rhetoric for the Victory Day parade, portrayed as marking the defeat of imperialist Japan in 1945, he repeatedly referred to “Japanese aggression”.

“War is like a mirror,” Mr Xi said from the top of Beijing’s Tiananmen Gate, flanked by Chinese leaders past and present along with foreign dignitaries before the show of metal and muscle began.

“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.”

Mr Xi, from the sunroof of his limousine as it drove past thousands of the assembled soldiers, repeatedly declared to them, “Comrades, you’ve worked hard.” The replies came in unison: “Hello leader. We serve the people.”

Among those also present was the Unite Nations’ Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, the president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, and the Sudanese president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court. Western leaders stayed away and Britain was represented by the veteran Conservative politician Kenneth Clarke. Tony Blair was also present in what was said to be his “private capacity”.

Minutes after nuclear-capable warheads trundled through Tiananmen Square, 70,000 white doves were released, followed into the skies by thousands of colourful balloons.

Residents of Beijing were mostly prevented from watching the parade in person but many followed it on television. Xie Luyan, 33, said: “I watched with awe the part where President Xi Jinping inspected the troops and arms. The weapons and troops showed a strong and powerful China and I am very proud.”

Independent

Xi Jinping's statement in full

All my countrymen and women,

Your excellencies heads of state and government and representatives of the United Nations and other international organisations,

Distinguished guests,

All officers and soldiers participating in the parade,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Comrades and friends,

Today is a day that will forever be etched in the memory of people all over the world. Seventy years ago today, the Chinese people, having fought tenaciously for 14 years, won the great victory of their War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, marking the full victory of the World Anti-Fascist War. On that day, the world was once again blessed by the sunshine of peace.

On this occasion, on behalf of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, the State Council, the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and the Central Military Commission, I pay high tribute to all the veterans, comrades, patriots and officers in China who took part in the War of Resistance and all the Chinese at home and abroad who contributed significantly to the victory of the war.

I extend heartfelt gratitude to foreign governments and friends who supported and assisted the Chinese people in resisting aggression. I also warmly welcome all the foreign guests and representatives of the armed forces of foreign countries present today.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Comrades and friends,

The Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War were a decisive battle between justice and evil, between light and darkness, and between progress and reaction. In that devastating war, the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression started the earliest and lasted the longest.

In defiance of aggression, the unyielding Chinese people fought gallantly and finally won total victory against the Japanese militarist aggressors, thus preserving China's 5,000-year-old civilisation and upholding the cause of peace of mankind. This remarkable feat made by the Chinese nation was rare in the history of war.

The victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression is the first complete victory won by China in its resistance against foreign aggression in modern times. This great triumph crushed the plot of the Japanese militarists to colonise and enslave China and put an end to China's national humiliation of suffering successive defeats at the hands of foreign aggressors in modern times. This great triumph re-established China as a major country in the world and won the Chinese people respect of all peace-loving people around the world. This great triumph opened up bright prospects for the great renewal of the Chinese nation and set our ancient country on a new journey after gaining rebirth.

During the war, with huge national sacrifice, the Chinese people held ground in the main theatre in the East of the World Anti-Fascist War, thus making major contribution to its victory. In their war against Japanese aggression, the Chinese people received extensive support from the international community. The Chinese people will always remember what the people of other countries did for the victory of their War of Resistance.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Comrades and friends,

The experience of war makes people value peace all the more. The aim of our commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War is to bear history in mind, honour all those who laid down their lives, cherish peace and open up the future.

Ravaging through Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania, that war inflicted over 100 million military and civilian casualties. China suffered over 35 million casualties and the Soviet Union lost more than 27 million lives. The best way to honour the heroes who gave their lives to uphold freedom, justice and peace and mourn the loss of innocent lives brutally taken during the war is to make sure that this historical tragedy will never repeat itself.

War is like a mirror. 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.

In the interest of peace, we need to foster a keen sense of a global community of shared future. Prejudice, discrimination, hatred and war can only cause disaster and suffering, while mutual respect, equality, peaceful development and common prosperity represent the right path to take. All countries should jointly uphold the international order and system underpinned by the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, build a new type of international relations featuring win-win cooperation and advance the noble cause of global peace and development.

In the interest of peace, China will remain committed to peaceful development. We Chinese love peace. No matter how much stronger it may become, China will never seek hegemony or expansion. It will never inflict its past suffering on any other nation. The Chinese people are resolved to pursue friendly relations with all other countries, uphold the outcomes of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War, and make greater contribution to mankind.

The People's Liberation Army of China is the people's army. All its officers, men and women must bear in mind their responsibility of serving the people wholeheartedly, faithfully fulfill the sacred duty of protecting the nation's security and people's well-being, and carry out the noble mission of upholding world peace. Here, I announce that China will cut the number of its troops by 300,000.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Comrades and friends,

As an ancient Chinese saying goes, "After making a good start, we should ensure that the cause achieves fruition." The great renewal of the Chinese nation requires the dedicated efforts of one generation after another. Having created a splendid civilisation of over 5,000 years, the Chinese nation will certainly usher in an even brighter future.

Going forward, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, we, people of all ethnicities across the country, should take Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the important thought of Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development as our guide to action. We should follow the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics, pursue the four-pronged comprehensive strategy, promote patriotism and the great spirit of resisting aggression and forge ahead as one to reach our goals.

Let us bear in mind the great truth of history: Justice will prevail! Peace will prevail! The people will prevail!

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