China to put on huge show of force for World War Two anniversary

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China Sends a Message With World War II Parade

China will put on a huge show of force on Thursday with goose-stepping troops and nuclear-capable missiles parading through Beijing, marking 70 years since the end of World War Two and the country's growing military might and confidence.

More than 12,000 soldiers, most Chinese but with contingents from Russia and elsewhere, will march past Tiananmen Square overseen by President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of several other friendly nations, including Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

Many Western leaders will be conspicuous by their absence, nervous about appearing on the same stage as people like Putin and about the message China is sending to a region already worried by Beijing's growing military assertiveness, especially in the South ChinaSea.

See images of Beijing's parade preparation:

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China to put on huge show of force for World War Two anniversary
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers march past Tiananmen Square before a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 22: (CHINA OUT) A female soldier from the Chinese People's Liberation Army attends a training session for the September 3 military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression at a military base on August 22, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)
Military vehicles carrying cruise missiles participate in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese People's Liberation Army personnel participate in a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese soldiers conduct a practice at dawn ahead of a military parade later in the morning at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. A huge military parade rolls through Tiananmen Square as Beijing commemorates the 70th anniversary of Japan's WWII defeat, but major Western leaders are staying away from the show of strength. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese soldiers conduct a practice at dawn ahead of a military parade later in the morning at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. A huge military parade rolls through Tiananmen Square as Beijing commemorates the 70th anniversary of Japan's WWII defeat, but major Western leaders are staying away from the show of strength. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese president and leader of the Communist Party rides in an open top car as he greets soldiers and others in front of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers ride on armoured missile carriers as they pass in front of Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City during a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Birds are released as a crowd looks up during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The spectacle involved more than 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types, representing what military officials say is the Chinese military's most cutting-edge technology.(Rolex Dela Pena/Pool Photo via AP)
Chinese soldiers march in formation during a military parade in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / POOL / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Paramilitary policemen carrying flags prepare in front of the Tiananmen Gate ahead of the military parade to mark the 70th Anniversary of the end of World War Two on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. China's President Xi Jinping and thousands of soldiers are to march in a military parade to celebrate the occasion. (Photo by Jason Lee - Pool/Getty Images)
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) wipes his face as Russia's President Vladimir Putin (L) looks on during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / GREG BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: Chinese soldiers march past Tiananmen Square before a military parade on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. Today marks the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. China's President Xi Jinping and thousands of soldiers are to march in a military parade to celebrate the occasion. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
A member of Chinese People's Liberation Army waves as his comrades look out from a bus as they arrive at Tiananmen Gate to take part in a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War II in Beijing Thursday Sept. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
A Chinese KJ-2000 (C) flies in formation with eight J-10 jets over a military parade in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / POOL / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese President Xi Jinping stands in a car to review the army during a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. The spectacle involved more than 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of military hardware and 200 aircraft of various types, representing what military officials say is the Chinese military's most cutting-edge technology. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 03: An honor guest with medals on his coat arrives to his seat to watch a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II on September 3, 2015 in Beijing, China. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing. (Photo by Andy Wong - Pool/Getty Images)
Chinese female soldiers march into position ahead of a military parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A Chinese military vehicle is pictured during a military parade in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. China kicked off a huge military ceremony marking the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II on September 3, as major Western leaders stayed away. AFP PHOTO / POOL / WANG ZHAO (Photo credit should read WANG ZHAO/AFP/Getty Images)
Chinese Harbin Z-9 (top half) and Z-19 (bottom half) military helicopters fly in formation during a military parade at Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 3, 2015, to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan and the end of World War II. A huge military parade rolls through Tiananmen Square as Beijing commemorates the 70th anniversary of Japan's WWII defeat, but major Western leaders are staying away from the show of strength. AFP PHOTO / FRED DUFOUR (Photo credit should read FRED DUFOUR,FRED DEFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Soldiers of China's People Liberation Army (PLA) prepare in front of the Tiananmen Gate ahead of a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Beijing Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. (Jason Lee/Pool Photo via AP)
Chinese soldiers march into position ahead of a military parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Military planes fly in formation during a military parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, in Beijing Thursday, Sept. 3, 2015. (Rolex Dela Pena/Pool Photo via AP)
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 02: Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shakes hands with Tajikistan President Emomali Rakhmon (L) during the signing ceremony at Diaoyutai State Guesthouse on September 2, 2015 in Beijing, China. Emomali Rakhmon will attend the Chinese People's Anti-Japanese War and the World Anti-Fascist War 70th anniversary victory parade on September 3.
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 02: (CHINA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) arrives at Beijing International Airport ahead of attending the V-Day parade for the 70th anniversary of the victories of World War II on September 2, 2015 in Beijing, China.
TT Chen poses for a picture at his bakery in Beijing on September 2, 2015. The pastry maker's family played a key role in China's 20th-century struggle against Japanese invaders. The undoubted star of China's giant military parade marking 70 years since Japan's World War II defeat -- and countless television shows on the conflict -- will be the ruling Communist Party, celebrating a victory historians say was largely won by others. AFP PHOTO / WANG XHAO 
A woman sells an ice cream in the shape of executed Japanese war criminal Hideki Tojo at an ice cream store in Shanghai on September 2, 2015. An ice cream chain in China's commercial hub Shanghai is offering a lickable likeness of the head of executed Japanese war criminal Hideki Tojo to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
A woman sells an ice cream in the shape of executed Japanese war criminal Hideki Tojo at an ice cream store in Shanghai on September 2, 2015. An ice cream chain in China's commercial hub Shanghai is offering a lickable likeness of the head of executed Japanese war criminal Hideki Tojo to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. 
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 02: Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shankes hands with South Korean President Park Geun-hye (L) at The Great Hall Of The People on September 2, 2015 in Beijing, China. South Korean President Park Geun-hye will attend the Chinese People's Anti-Japanese War and the World Anti-Fascist War 70th anniversary victory parade on September 3. 
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 02: Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shankes hands with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi (L) during the signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on September 2, 2015 in Beijing, China. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi will attend the Chinese People's Anti-Japanese War and the World Anti-Fascist War 70th anniversary victory parade on September 3. 
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 01: Chinese visitors looks at a display showing the five leaders of Communist China during a visit to the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression on September 1, 2015 in Beijing, China. The museum is dedicated to Chinese people's resistance against Japanese aggression in the Second World War during Japan's brutal occupation of parts of China and the rise of the Communist Party in the post-war era. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing on Thursday. Some critics say the holiday foments anti-Japan sentiment in mainland China and helps to fuel regional tension.
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 01: A Chinese girls walks passed a skull said to be that of a villager killed by Japanese troops in the Second World War during a visit to the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression on September 1, 2015 in Beijing, China. The museum is dedicated to Chinese people's resistance against Japanese aggression in the Second World War during Japan's brutal occupation of parts of China and the rise of the Communist Party in the post-war era. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing on Thursday. Some critics say the holiday foments anti-Japan sentiment in mainland China and helps to fuel regional tension.
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 01: Chinese visitors visit a display showing a painting of Chinese soldiers in battle againstg Japanese troops in the Second World War during a visit to the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression on September 1, 2015 in Beijing, China. The museum is dedicated to Chinese people's resistance against Japanese aggression in the Second World War during Japan's brutal occupation of parts of China and the rise of the Communist Party in the post-war era. China is marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and its role in defeating Japan with a new national holiday and a military parade in Beijing on Thursday. Some critics say the holiday foments anti-Japan sentiment in mainland China and helps to fuel regional tension. 
A Chinese policewoman is pictured in Tiananmen Square in Beijing on September 1, 2015, prior to a military parade on September 3 to mark the victory over Japan and the end of World War II. 
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 01: Red flags decorate around an old building located at southwest of Tiananmen Square ahead of China's 9.3 V-Day military parade on September 1, 2015 in Beijing, China. A military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be held in Tiananmen on September 3 in Beijing. 
This photo taken on August 31, 2015 shows egg sculptures themed in China's WWII anniversary created by elderly farmer Li Aimin in Zouping, east China's Shandong province. Soldiers will march, gleaming hardware will roll, and warplanes will fly above Tiananmen Square at China's WWII anniversary parade, but major Western leaders are shunning the show as Beijing assumes an increasingly assertive role on the global stage. 
BEIJING, CHINA - SEPTEMBER 01: The five-starred red flag hangs on a house of Hutong near Tiananmen square to welcome the Sep.3 military parade on September 1, 2015 in Beijing, China. China will hold a military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-fascist War on September 3 in Beijing.
BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 31: Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) shankes hands with Laos' President Choummaly Sayasone during the signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on August 31, 2015 in Beijing, China. Laos' President Choummaly Sayasone will attend the September 3, 2015 Chinese People's Anti-Japanese War and the World Anti-Fascist War 70th anniversary victory parade. 
BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 31: Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) accompanies Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev (R) to view an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People on August 31, 2015 in Beijing, China. Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev will attend the September 3, 2015 Chinese People's Anti-Japanese War and the World Anti-Fascist War 70th anniversary victory parade. 
BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 30: BEIJING, CHINA - August 30: (CHINA OUT) Venezuelan troops get train for the 9.3 military parade on August 30, 2015 in Beijing, China. China will hold a military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-fascist War on September 3 in Beijing. 
BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 29: A female Soldier of The Military Band of the Chinese People's Liberation Army practices for the 9.3 military parade at Tiananmen on August 29, 2015 in Beijing, China. A military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the victories of World War II would be held at Tiananmen on September 3 in Beijing. 
BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 29: Female Soldiers of The Military Band of the Chinese People's Liberation Army talk about their rehearsal of the 9.3 military parade at Tiananmen on August 29, 2015 in Beijing, China. A military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the victories of World War II would be held at Tiananmen on September 3 in Beijing. 
BEIJING, CHINA - AUGUST 29: The five-starred red flags hang on houses near Andingmen Subdistrict to welcome the Sep.3 military parade on August 29, 2015 in Beijing, China. China will hold a military parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-fascist War on September 3 in Beijing.
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Xi has set great store on military modernization and the morning parade will be the high point of China's celebrations for the war's end.

"A military parade is an important test of training levels, and also a sign showing the military's ability to wage war and shows the modernization level of the armed forces," Qu Rui, a senior officer helping oversee the parade, told reporters last month.

A large number of new weapons systems will be shown, from ballistic missiles to bombers.

China rarely misses an opportunity to remind its own people and the world about the atrocities and violence visited upon the country by Japan during the war, during which millions of Chinese died.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will not attend either.

China says the parade is not aimed at any particular country and is about peace and remembrance, but also a reminder to the world of China's huge sacrifices.

"For decades, when people in Western countries talk about the WWII, they usually refer to the battles on the European continent and have little knowledge about China's role as the major oriental theater of the war," state news agency Xinhua said in an English-language commentary this week.

Beijing has been put under lock-down to ensure nothing goes wrong, with much of downtown off-limits, a three-day holiday declared and, according to one Chinese newspaper, monkeys used to clear birds' nests from trees along the route.

Factories have been closed hundreds of miles from Beijing to guarantee clear skies in the normally smoggy metropolis, and some residents whose apartments overlook roads along which the tanks will rumble have been warned not to look out of windows.

State media has gone into a propaganda overdrive ahead of the parade, and entertainment programming on television has been suspended to ensure the proper reverential atmosphere.

(Editing by Nick Macfie)

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