Anti-ship missiles attend the military parade in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 3, 2015. China on Thursday held commemoration activities, including a grand military parade, to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. (Photo: Xinhua/Chen Fei)
China on Thursday displayed a host of new armaments ranging from intercontinental ballistic missiles to medium-long range bomber aircraft in its massive parade commemorating the end of WWII, highlighting the nation's inherent military strategy of "active defense." [Special coverage]
Twenty-seven phalanxes with Chinese-made main battle armaments including the Dongfeng-5B, an intercontinental strategic missile designed to carry nuclear warheads, and the Dongfeng-21D anti-ship ballistic missile described by some media as the "carrier killer," paraded through the Tian'anmen Square in central Beijing as nearly 200 aircraft including the H-6K medium-long range bombers and carrier-based J-15 fighter jets flew overhead.
Eighty-four percent of the 500 pieces of equipment of over 40 types on show were displayed in public for the first time.
Chinese military experts believe that the high-profile weaponry display, which reflects the latest achievements of the Chinese armed forces, is inherently in line with the defensive military strategy of the world's second largest economy.
"It's just like when you have a knife, you can use it either for offense or defense," said Chen Zhou, director of the National Defense Policy Research Center of the Academy of Military Sciences of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA). "It is your strategy behind that really matters."
China's latest white paper on military strategy issued this year underscored its principles of "defense, self-defense and post-emptive strikes."
It is an international practice in military parade to display new weaponry system. China has unveiled its most advanced weaponry during many of its past 14 military parades in Beijing, including the Dongfeng-31, the nation's then-latest intercontinental missile, in 1999.
The ground armament formations of the Sept. 3 parade include modules for ground combat, air defense and missile defense, maritime attacks, strategic strikes, communication support, and logistics and armament support.
This was the first time that the PLA arranged its armament based on their actual combat roles in a parade.
China's most sophisticated main battlefield 99A tanks, known as "king of the land battle," spearheaded the armament phalanxes in arrow-shaped formations, ensued by amphibious vehicles, infantry fighting vehicles and airborne fighting vehicles.
Among the armaments that were paraded in public for the first time were China's Red Arrow-10 anti-tank missiles, HQ-12 anti-aircraft missiles and the third-generation carrier-based medium-long range air defense missiles.
Also in spotlight are China's shore-based anti-ship missiles which are capable of destroying large warships.
China's 18,000-km-long continental coastline has historically been vulnerable to invading foreign powers. In 1840, the Middle Kindom's door was opened British marines in the First Opium War.
In a country that has been increasingly prone to terrorist attacks, the anti-terrorist formation consisting of 18 white and olive-green armored police vehicles was on show. The vehicles, completed in May, are the youngest armored vehicles in the parade.
The formation also includes 104 armed police from the elite "Snow Leopard Commando" force which was established in 2002.
The gleaming hardware rolling through posed a sharp contrast to China's poor weaponry in the wartime seven decades ago.
"In the fierce battle, the Japanese had rifles, scores of tanks and fighter planes," veteran Hu Lidong said. "Our men were mowed down."
Seven types of conventional and nuclear missiles, probably the most anticipated weapons by China watchers worldwide given their strategic and operational importance, featured the six PLA Second Artillery Force formations.
The armaments include conventional missiles of Dongfeng-15B and Dongfeng-16, Dongfeng-21D anti-ship ballistic missile described by some media as the "carrier killer," Changjian-10A cruise missiles, Dongfeng-26 ballistic missiles, Dongfeng-31A solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as the Dongfeng-5B intercontinental strategic missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads.
The gigantic strategic weapons in camouflaged colors rolled on long-bed trucks prompted applause and cheers from spectators on the square.
The majority of the world's nuclear warheads belong to the United States and Russia.
A signatory of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, China has repeatedly vowed to adhere to the policy of no-first-use of nuclear weapons and the policy that it will, unconditionally, not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states and nuclear-weapon-free zones.
China is the only nuclear-weapon country that has publicly made the pledge.
Other equipment formations featured the modules of communication support and logistics and armament support, consisting of early warning radars, drones and vehicles for logistics, maintenance, refueling and other purposes.
Experts believe that the most emphatic point the parade made is that China is committed to building a strong army as its defensive military policy in nature has remained unchanged.
Most of the Chinese aircraft displayed in the parade are multiple-role models that focus on the air control.
Nearly 200 aircraft of 18 types flew above the Tian'anmen Square in 10 echelons in the parade.
The military parade in 1949, when the People's Republic of China was founded, saw only 17 aircraft. Last year, President Xi Jinping, also chairman of the Central Military Commission, urged accelerating development of military equipment systems to help build a strong army.
The 10 air echelons include air flag guard formations, the leading aircraft echelon, airborne early warning and control aircraft, bombers, fighters, carrier-based aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft, a refueling and receiver echelon.
Among the air echelons were the KJ-500 airborne early warning planes, medium-size Y8 aircraft, the J-10 J-11,J-15, JH-7A fighter jets, H-6K medium-long range bombers, supplying tankers and helicopters.
In 1937, when Japan began its full-scale invasion of China, the number of the aircraft that the weak Chinese air force had was only one seventh of its formidable Japanese counterpart. Most of the Chinese warplanes were outdated or imported from the West. During its war of resistance against the Japanese invasion, China's air force was aided by the Soviet Union air force and the U.S. "Flying Tigers."
"China's armaments are proportional to its economic development level and its requirement for security," said Chen Zhou. "Its military strategy will remain active defense."
The parade, which involves 12,000 Chinese soldiers, marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War.
China has been repeatedly invaded by foreign powers equipped with advanced armaments since the 1840s. The world's most populous country had never won a victory against invaders over the past centuries until 1945 when Japan surrendered after an eight-year war with China.
The fire of war scourged half of the Chinese territory, with around 260 million Chinese involved in the war and more than 35 million people killed or wounded. The direct economic loss reached some 100 billion U.S. dollars. Major Chinese cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing,Guangzhou were occupied by the Japanese army during the war.