Chinese President Xi Jinping presided over a parade of tanks, missiles and troops that displayed his country's growing military might on Thursday, but pledged to reduce troop levels by 300,000 to show his country poses no expansionist threat.
A massive parade through the heart of Beijing commemorated Japan's World War defeat seven decades ago, with helicopters zooming across the sky in an array forming the number 70. The event, which underlined Xi's determination to make China the pre-eminent Asian power, was shunned by most Western leaders.
Xi, speaking on a rostrum overlooking Beijing's Tiananmen Square before the parade, offered an unexpected olive branch by saying China would cut its troop levels by 300,000. That would streamline one of the world's biggest militaries, currently around 2.3-million strong. Xi gave no timeframe, though.
Ater that, more than 12,000 soldiers, mostly Chinese but with contingents from Russia and elsewhere, began marching down Changan Avenue, led by veterans of World War Two carried in vehicles. They were followed by a range of ballistic missiles, tanks and armoured vehicles, many never seen in public before. Advanced fighter jets and bombers also buzzed overhead.
Xi was joined by Russian President Vladimir Putin and leaders of several other nations with close ties to China, including Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.