China’s invitation to the Pakistani military and perceptions of an anti-Japanese sentiment may have led to India rejecting a Chinese request to send troops for a high-profile military parade on September 3.
The Beijing parade next week will see as many as 1,000 foreign troops from 17 countries march in China for the first time alongside the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), which will hold a rare public display of some of its most advanced battle-tanks, bombers and missiles. China had earlier this year offered India, as well as Pakistan and several other countries, to send high-level representation as well as a contingent of 75 troops for the parade, which will mark the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Chinese officials had sought the attendance of President Pranab Mukherjee, who attended Russia’s parade marking the event in May when Indian troops also participated along with those from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Mongolia and Serbia.
New Delhi, however, has rejected China’s request. No Indian troops will participate, while Minister of State for External Affairs General (retd.) VK Singh will be the only top representative from Delhi – representation far lower than Beijing had asked for.
Indian media said participation would have meant the unusual occurrence of Indian troops marching side-by-side with troops from Pakistan. China had invited Pakistan around the same time that it had reached out to New Delhi. Pakistan has sent a contingent of 75 troops – whose rehearsals have been praised and covered widely in the Chinese media and on social media – while President Mamnoon Hussain will likely attend.
Among the other heads of state present in Beijing next week are Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korea’s Park Geun-hye, South Africa’s Jacob Zuma, Myanmar President Thein Sein and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang.
Troops from Belarus, Cuba, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan, Mexico, Mongolia, Pakistan, Serbia, Tajikistan and Russia will participate.
The view in Beijing is that only “true friends” of China were sending troops for the parade, according to leading Chinese strategic expert Jin Canrong of Renmin University. “One of the diplomatic aims behind the military parade is to make clear who will be China’s true friends,” he told the South China Morning Post.