European leaders are uncertain on how to respond to an invitation from China to a military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Diplomats are wary of lending international credibility to an event that could be seen as an effort to parade Chinese military strength rather than commemorate war dead, the Financial Times said.
The occasion, which is likely to feature heavy weaponry, is set to pass by Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, scene of a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy students in 1989.
And as such, attendance in the Sept. 3 event might be interpreted as an acceptance, if not endorsement, of China’s stance in dealing with its own dissidents and its territorial dispute with Japan.
The parade has been billed as “Victory Day of the Chinese people’s war of resistance against Japanese aggression”.
China has often criticized Japan for its atrocities during the war, and condemns Japanese leaders who visit a controversial shrine for the war dead in Tokyo.
“There will be great reluctance to attend [at a senior level], especially if it appears designed to upset Japan,” the newspaper quoted a European diplomat as saying.
So far Russian President Vladimir Putin is the only foreign leader whose acceptance has been announced.
“China and Russia, as two main battlefields in the second world war in Asia and Europe, have made important contributions to victory in the war and the defeat of fascism and Japanese militarism,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said last week. “They made huge sacrifices.”
Japan’s foreign ministry said it had not received an invitation, and declined to say if the country would send a representative.
Hong did not say which countries had been invited.
Most European leaders have already decided not to attend a May 9 Russian parade marking the end of the war in Europe, because of Moscow’s support for the conflict in Ukraine.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel will instead lay a wreath on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow the following day, along with Putin.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the Russian parade.
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