VK Singh, the minister of state for external affairs will be among the 30 heads of states in Beijing on September 3 at the high-profile military day parade to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II – or China’s Victory Day celebrations over Japan.
Singh will be in the company of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republic of Korea President Park Geun-hye who will attend the parade and the series of events to mark the day.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be there to soak in the martial spirit - besides the smog-free air that Beijingers are already breathing in the run-up – along with President of Myanmar Thein Sein, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang.
North Korea, China’s neighbour and considered close ally, is sending Choe Ryong-hae, a senior official.
Singh is expected to arrive in Beijing on September 2, attend the series of events on September 3 and fly back the next day. It is for the first time that China is marking the day by holding a military parade, which many say, is to showcase its military strength.
India has not sent a military contingent to take part in the parade, though 17 other countries are sending 1000 soldiers to march at the parade.
In May, President Pranab Mukherjee went to Russia on a five-day visit when Moscow was marking its own commemoration of World War II. On that occasion, India had sent an armed forces’ contingent to take part in the military parade.
An invitation, as per protocol, was sent by China to Mukherjee as well. But New Delhi would have decided to send Singh keeping in mind its evolving relations with Tokyo and the anti-Japanese sentiment that is said to be the driving force behind Beijing staging a massive military parade.
Expectedly, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is not among the list; the victory day parade is essentially to commemorate the end of Japanese invasion of China. But to compensate Abe’s absence, former Japanese PM Tomiichi Murayama will be on the stands for the parade.
“We have stressed several times that the celebrations are not targeting specific countries, not Japan, nor the Japanese people. It has no direct link to current Sino-Japanese relations," Zhang was quoted by the official news agency Xinhua as having said.
More than 42,000 personnel from the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will march at the parade which will have seven types of missiles and a range of arms and armaments on display.
Among the attendees will be former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the vice minister of foreign affairs, Zhang Ming, was quoted by the state media.
Besides India, the top leaders from the US, Britain and France are not attending the parade.
“We have invited leaders of relevant countries to join the Chinese people to celebrate this great day. But it is their decision. For us, we respect and welcome all guests,” Zhang said.