China’s military parade from where Genghis Khan launched campaign sends out several signals
An unprecedented show of China’s military might, the parade in Inner Mongolia was spearheaded by President Xi Jinping and featured state-of-the-art and fully functioning weaponry
The first-ever parade to mark an anniversary of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Sunday couldn’t have come at a more critical juncture for Asia, with two of its largest powers involved in almost a two-month old border standoff in Bhutan.
Just two days earlier, India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval was in Beijing where he met President Xi Jinping, in an apparent bid to defuse the ongoing crisis in Doklam.
Globally, the situation in North Korea over its nuclear weapons programme is getting increasingly volatile, with US President Donald Trump saying that he wouldn’t “allow this to continue.”
Hours later after Trump’s comments and two days after Doval’s China visit, Jinping, dressed in military gear and riding in an open jeep, delivered a powerful message in front of PLA’s 12,000 participating troops.
“The world isn’t safe at this moment,” he said. “A strong army is needed now more than ever."
“I firmly believe that our gallant military has both confidence and ability to defeat all invading enemies,” Jinping added.
The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) couldn’t have chosen a more symbolic venue to showcase its might. The parade took place at Zhurihe military base -- the largest in Asia.
South China Morning Post reported that Zhurihe, meaning “the heart” in Mongolian, is located close to where the great Mongol emperor Genghis Khan began his conquest campaign of Eurasia eight centuries ago.
Along with Chinese troops who participated in the Sunday event at the Combined Tactics Training Base, there was also a display of advanced Chinese weapons, 40 per cent of which have never been seen in public before. Also, on show was China’s J-20 stealth fighter, which has been compared to America’s fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) F-22 Raptor, and the DF-31 AG advanced, an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The H-6 bomber, which conducts patrolling missions in the disputed maritime territory of the South China Sea, was also reportedly seen.
Chinese media reports claimed that several other things stood out about Sunday’s parade.
- Such mega military events in China have traditionally been held at Beijing’s Tienanmen Square and been seen as playing more to the world and domestic gallery. Everyone, however, at Sunday’s parade was dressed in military fatigue, according to SCMP.
- Military commentators quoted in Chinese media also pointed out that the parade heavily emphasised on real combat and field operations. “All the equipment that featured in the parade were fully operational,” a military expert in Beijing told SCMP.
- “It was the first time in 36 years that Chinese troops had been inspected outside Beijing,”
- In China’s domestic context, the parade is being seen as increasing concentration of military power in President Xi Jinping’s hands. The 19th Annual Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) will be held in Beijing this autumn, and it is already being predicted that Jinping would continue to be China’s leader.
Many Indian security experts have expressed fear that Chinese troops in Doklam won’t back down until the mega political event on the Chinese calendar, so as not to be perceived as weak domestically.