China has held a lavish parade in Beijing to mark the defeat of Japan in World War Two, showcasing its military might on an unprecedented scale. President Xi Jinping in his opening speech paid tribute to the Chinese people who unwaveringly fought hard and defeated aggression from Japan. He also said the Peoples Liberation Army would be reduced by 300,000 personnel, but gave no timeframe.
Chinas growing military power is being keenly watched amid regional tensions. China has several territorial disputes with neighbours in the South China Sea, as well as with Japan in the East China Sea. Ahead of the parade, the US said five Chinese ships had been spotted in the Bering Sea off Alaska for the first time. Chinas Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) is the worlds largest military, with 2.3 million members. China also has the second biggest defence budget after the US.
More than 30 foreign government officials and heads of state including Russia's President Vladimir Putin and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon attended the event. But many Western leaders and Japans Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have stayed away. Some 12,000 troops and 200 aircraft, as well as tanks and missiles, were on display in Tiananmen Square, including the anti-ship carrier killer missile Dongfeng-21D. Most of the war machinery on display was being shown to the general public for the first time, according to state media. Mr Xi, also the commander of the armed forces, was centre stage at the parades proceedings.