BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday that “many” countries were sending troops to participate in or watch a military parade in central Beijing in September to commemorate the end of World War Two, but would only name Russia amongst those nations.
With just a month or so to go until the parade, which will take place through Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, China has given few details about who will be attending, aside from Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian soldiers.
President Xi Jinping could be left standing on the stage with few top Western officials, diplomats have told Reuters, due to Western governments’ concerns on several issues, such as the presence of Putin and Russian troops.
Xi attended a parade in Moscow in May to mark 70 years since the end of the war in Europe. Western leaders boycotted the Moscow parade over Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
“As of now, Russia and many other countries have clearly said they will send personnel to China to participate in or observe the parade,” Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told a monthly news briefing, without naming any other countries.
Chinese media has said that Mongolia will also send troops.
The Beijing parade will be Xi’s first since he took over as Communist Party leader and military chief in late 2012 and as state president in early 2013.
Sino-Japan relations have long been affected by what China sees as Japan’s failure to atone for its occupation of parts of the country before and during the war, and Beijing rarely misses an opportunity to reprise this view.
This month, the European Union’s ambassador to China said that top leaders from the bloc are unlikely to attend the parade, adding he was worried about the message the event would send.
In April, U.S. President Barack Obama’s top Asia adviser, Evan Medeiros, said he questioned whether a large military parade would really send a signal of reconciliation or promote healing, drawing a rebuke from China.
Yang repeated the government’s standard line that the parade was about valuing peace and remembering the fallen, showing China’s determination to protect world peace.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie