China closes factories to commemorate World War II Japan defeat

A military parade through Beijing showcased the country's military might

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The Independent Online

Factories in China were shut to ensure clear skies as the country commemorated its defeat of Japan in World War Two with a parade showing off its military might.

The communist state closed factories hundreds of miles away from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square to clear the normally smoggy metropolis.

China’s lavish parade saw more than 12,000 troops marching through the square, and a display of 200 aircraft, tanks and missiles.  Advanced fighter jets and bombers also flew overhead.

However, during the parade, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced he would be cutting the country’s 2.3million-strong army by 300,000, although he gave no timeframe for the reduction in troops.

“Prejudice and discrimination, hatred and war can only cause disaster and pain,” he said.

“China will always uphold the path of peaceful development.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe did not attend today’s commemoration.

Ahead of the event, the Chinese government said the parade was not aimed at today's Japan, but to remember the past and to remind the world of China's sacrifices during the conflict.

A number of foreign government officials and heads of states did attend including Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, although the parade was shunned by many Western leaders who had been invited.

China has several ongoing territorial disputes with its neighbours in the South China Sea, as well as in the East China Sea, and with Japan.

Five Chinese navy ships were seen sailing in the Bering Sea, off Alaska, for the first time, the US Pentagon said the day before the parade.

China’s defence ministry said the ships were there as part of routine drills and not aimed at any particular country.