A PLA honor guard takes part in a parade in Beijing earlier this month. (Photo: China Daily/ Wu Zhiyi)
China's top envoy in Russia confirmed on Monday that the People's Liberation Army will, for the first time, send a contingent to take part in a major parade in Moscow next month.
Russia plans to hold grand celebrations marking the 70th anniversary of victory in the Great Patriotic War — the country's term for World War II — on May 9, including a military parade in Red Square.
Li Hui, the Chinese ambassador to Russia, said in an interview with Xinhua News Agency on Monday, "It will be the first time that China has dispatched a marching contingent to take part in the military parade in Red Square."
China's participation in the parade demonstrates fully the strategic coordination between the two countries, the envoy said.
On Saturday, the Chinese embassy in Russia told Xinhua that the Chinese honor guards scheduled to take part in the Victory Day parade had arrived in Moscow earlier that day. The embassy said 110 servicemen had arrived to prepare for the Red Square event.
Yang Cheng, deputy director of the Center for Russian Studies at East China Normal University in Shanghai, said the debut of a Chinese contingent in Red Square is a symbolic event as the strategic partnership enters a new phase.
Yang said it shows that "the bilateral ties, which are of great significance to the global and regional order, are of a strategic nature and consistency".
PLA honor guards took part in their first official parade abroad in 2010 at an international march in Mexico marking the 200th anniversary of the country's independence. Their second overseas appearance was in Venezuela in 2011.
Xing Guangcheng, a senior expert in Russian studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said events are routinely held on a large scale in Moscow to mark key anniversaries of victory in World War II.
In April, New Delhi said a 70-strong Indian Army contingent would take part in the Red Square parade — the first time that an Indian military contingent has participated in Victory Day celebrations in Moscow.
Leaders from China and Russia will attend anniversary events held by each country, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said earlier this year.