When China rolls out its latest armaments Thursday for a lavish parade commemorating the defeat of Japan in World War II, defence experts and foreign armies will be watching closely for any revelations about new military capabilities.
Fueled by booming defence spending, the People’s Liberation Army is expected to showcase breakthroughs in missile technology and military aircraft that reflect its increasing focus on projecting force beyond its borders, especially adjacent seas where it competes with neighbours for territory and resources.
The parade will feature more than 12,000 troops, upward of 200 planes and helicopters and around 500 pieces of equipment, including tanks, rocket launchers and missiles of all sizes and ranges. China says more than 80 per cent of the gear is being shown in public for the first time.
Of greatest interest are China’s strategic weapons: bombers and missiles capable of attacking targets thousands of kilometres away. That’s of particular concern to the U.S. and its allies in the region, especially Japan, with whom China has tussled over mineral rights and the ownership of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.
China’s rising capabilities also expose the vulnerability of Taiwan, the self-governing island democracy that Beijing claims as its own territory and threatens to conquer by force if necessary.