President Xi Jinping announces China's military downsize at military parade

President Xi Jinping announces China's military downsize at military parade

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Soldiers and armament vehicles gather ahead of the military parade.
Photo: Xinhua

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Chinese soldiers on armored fighting vehicles move past on Tiananmen Square.
Photo: EPA

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Military aircraft fly past the Temple of Heaven.
Photo: Reuters

President Xi Jinping today revealed he would cut the size of China's military personnel by 300,000 from China's PLA as Beijing's massive military parade commemorated Japan's defeat in the second world war. The world's largest army currently has 2.3 million troops.

It is rare for a president to make such an announcement at a military parade.

The parade featured a staggering 12,000 soldiers, almost 200 aircraft and 500 pieces of China's latest military gear - 84 per cent of which have never been publicly displayed.

Xi kicked off the proceedings with a speech at the iconic Tiananmen Gate in the heart of Beijing, flanked by Chinese leaders and foreign dignitaries; including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Chinese veterans wave from a truck during the military parade.
Photo: AFP

“Comrades! greetings!” Xi shouted as he waved to lines of soldiers he was inspecting on a China-made Red Flag sedan - the same brand of vehicles all his predecessors rode in during military parades.

"The experience of war makes people value peace even more," Xi said in his address.

China’s casualties accounted of one third of all the deaths in the second world war.

"Regardless of the progress of events, China will never seek hegemony, China will never seek to expand and will never inflict the tragedies it suffered in the past upon others."

Most leading democracies kept high-level representatives away, reflecting concerns over the parade's anti-Japanese subtext and China's aggressive moves to assert territorial claims.

Two formations of war veterans from the Communist Party of China and Taiwan's Kuomintang also attended. The veterans, with an average age of 90, lead the parade in military trucks.​

Since the republic’s founding, China has held 14 military parades to celebrate its October 1 National Day. 

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