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Call for China to walk the talk

HONG KONG (SE): As 12,000 troops marched, 500 pieces of military hardware were showcased and 200 aircraft flew over Tiananmen Square on September 3 to mark the 70th anniversary of the surrender of the Imperial Japanese Forces to China in 1945, the president of China, Xi Jinping, said, “With our victory, we completely shattered Japan’s militaristic attempts and regained China’s status as a great power.”

During the pageant of military might, Xi then promised, “China will not seek hegemony or expansion and will not cause other countries to suffer its tragic experience.”

However, international media mostly interpreted the extravaganza as a demonstration of power, prompting The Philippines, which has locked horns with Beijing over reclamation work being done in what it terms the West Philippine Sea, to tell Xi to walk the talk.

“We hope to see the gap between China’s pronouncements and the actual conditions on the ground bridged,” the Philippine Inquirer quoted Charles Jose, a spokesperson for the Foreign Affairs Department in Manila, as saying.

Manila has continually asked China to respect the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the 2002 agreement signed with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations calling for restraint from causing tension in disputed waters.

Neither the president of The Philippines nor its ambassador to China attended the parade.

But the mayor of Manila, Joseph Estrada, did, saying that Manila and Beijing are sister cities.

While most United States of America-aligned countries did not send their heads-of-state to the parade, South Korea did.

Yonhap News highlighted her presence at the reopening of a building in Shanghai that was used by Korea’s provisional government during Japan’s colonial occupation of the country from 1910 to 1945.

“Our people remember well that Chinese people provided support,” Park Guen-hye told the People’s Daily.

“We are thankful to our old friends,” Park continued.

A provisional Korean government was formed in Shanghai on 13 April 1919, after an independence uprising against Japanese rule was squashed.

The Japanese describe the incident as the quelling of an unruly mob.

Noting that there is still tension among China, Japan and her own country today, Park said, “These countries in the region need to make efforts to move toward a new future based on correct recognition of history.”

Yonhap also noted that North Korea only sent a low level official to represent it at the September 3 commemoration of the end of the war.

Japan’s Asashi Shimbun highlighted Xi’s pledge to reduce the size of the military by 13 per cent, which it interpreted as turning the event into a ceremony showing that China is a peaceful country.

But the Japan Times made much of the higher than usual number of tourists from China who chose to visit its shores during the extended holiday granted to mark the end of the war against Japanese aggression.

Joseph Cheng, a political commentator from Hong Kong, noted, “In domestic terms, it is certainly a plus for Xi. But in foreign policy terms, it is controversial. It doesn’t enhance China’s soft power. It doesn’t help China’s image as a force for peace, stability and development.”

The day in the sun for the military was described by the Inquirer as little more than a prickly strain of nationalism constantly reminded by state media of past humiliations at the hands of foreign powers, especially Japan.


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