China parade draws Putin, but few other major world leaders
Russian leader Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon shine at the top of China's guest list at this week's grand commemorations of the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II.
Beijing: Russian leader Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon shine at the top of China's guest list at this week's grand commemorations of the 70th anniversary of Japan's defeat in World War II.
After them, the wattage gets pretty low. Beijing says the attendance of 30 overseas leaders from countries ranging from Mongolia to Egypt to Venezuela is a sign that China's long-undervalued contributions to that victory in 1945 are finally getting their proper due.
That's clouded, however, by the absence of high-level representatives from major Western democracies whose forces were key in the Allied victory, such as the United States, Britain, France and Australia.
Given Beijing's political repression at home and its aggressive moves to assert territorial claims in the region, many countries appear reluctant to associate too closely with an event calculated to elevate the Communist Party and its leader, President Xi Jinping, on the world stage.
China on Thursday celebrates what it calls the Victory of the Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and World Anti-Fascist War, which marks the day after Japan formally surrendered to the Allies aboard a US naval ship 70 years ago.
Four years later, Mao Zedong's Communists overthrew the Nationalists who had led the fight against Japan, and established the People's Republic that endures to this day as a one-party autocratic state.
The festivities in Beijing will be centered on a massive military parade featuring more than 12,000 troops, scores of warplanes and more than 500 pieces of hardware including tanks, artillery and intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Britain, Germany and Japan are dispatching only retired government leaders, including former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
The US will be represented only by its ambassador to China, Max Baucus.
Just one head of state from a European Union country will attend: Czech President Milos Zeman.
"I think one has to understand that there has always been an uneasiness (about) these kinds of military parades," said Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, the EU's top diplomat in Beijing.
Also on the guest list; Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir, who is wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide and war crimes. In June he cut short a visit to South Africa while judges deliberated on whether he should be arrested.
China is not a party to the treaty that established the ICC, but it's a permanent member of the Security Council that referred the situation in Sudan's Darfur region to the court in 2005.