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China to debut new armaments in military parade

About 84 percent of armaments to be displayed in China's Sept. 3 military parade have never been viewed by the public, a senior military officer said Friday.

The Army, Navy, Air Force, Second Artillery Force and Armed Police will debut new weapons and equipment, said Qu Rui, deputy director of the Office of the Parade Leading Team and deputy chief of the Operations Department of the General Staff Headquarters.

All of the armaments are domestically produced, added Qu.

Qu said 50 formations will parade through Tian'anmen Square on Sept. 3 to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War, including 11 foot formations, two formations of veterans in vehicles, 27 armament formations and 10 air echelons.

A total of 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of equipment, and nearly 200 aircraft will be shown, he said.

The foot formations include active-duty units to honor troops from major WWII battles, including the Eighth Route Army and the New Fourth Army.

The ground armament formations will include modules for ground combat, air defense and missile defense, maritime attacks, strategic strikes, communication support and logistics and armament support, said Qu.

The PLA will arrange its armament in formations based on their actual combat roles. This is the first time the PLA organizes a parade in such a way, said Peng Guangqian, deputy secretary-general of the Council for National Security Policy Studies.

"This indicates a change of the PLA training strategy; with more focus on actual combat," Peng said.

Qu noted that the armaments "represent the new development, achievement and image of the building of China's armed forces."

The 10 air echelons include air flag guard formations, the leading aircraft echelon, airborne early warning and control (AEWC) aircraft, bombers, fighters, carrier-based aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft, a refuelling and receiver echelon, and helicopters, according to Qu.

Qu did not specify the types of armaments or aircraft models, but China has typically unveiled its most advanced weapon systems during military parades, including the debut of Dongfeng 31, an intercontinental ballistic missile, at the 1999 military parade.

Qu said displaying new weapon systems is an international practice in military parades. "The parade is intended to commemorate history, cherish the memory of our fallen revolutionary soldiers, uphold peace and usher in the future, with no other countries targeted."

Wang Shun, another senior military official present at the press conference, noted that the military parade will be carried out frugally, as the armaments to be showcased are still in active service, and no new weapons will be purchased for the parade.

Wang also said that more than 50 generals, including lieutenant generals and major generals, will lead the foot formations and armament formations. Past military parades have rarely featured generals leading troops.

Concerns have been raised over the parade, however, military experts insist that every country needs a strong army to defend itself.

Qiao Liang, with the National Defense University, told Xinhua that China learned a tough lesson during WWII; without a strong national defense force the country opens itself up to predators and is unable to avoid war.

"There is nothing wrong with flexing our muscles as long as we do it for the right reasons, for instance, self defense and peace," he said.

[Source: Xinhua, Beijing, 21Aug15]

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