India’s balancing act: V.K. Singh to visit Beijing for World War II Parade

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It’s official. India’s Minister of State for External Affairs General V.K. Singh will represent India at China’s World War II Military Parade that commemorates the 70thanniversary of the end of World War II and China’s victory day celebrations over Japan. Around 30 heads of state are expected to be in Beijing on September 3 to attend the high profile event.

These include, among others, Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang. This is the first time China is holding a military parade to mark the day and this move is seen by many as China’s intent to showcase its military strength and capabilities.

Seventeen countries are sending 1000 soldiers to march at the parade. India is not, however, sending any military contingent to the Beijing event. India had earlier sent a military contingent to participate in Russia’s commemoration of World War II, which was attended by India’s President Pranab Mukherjee. China had also invited Mr Mukherjee as per protocol but the Indian government, after much internal discussions, decided to send Mr Singh to China as its representative. Informed sources said that India decided to downgrade its representation due to its burgeoning relations with Japan as China’s military parade is widely seen as aimed at expressing anti-Japan sentiment.

Given anti-Tokyo symbolism of the parade, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will not be visiting Beijing, which was widely speculated in the media.

China has, however, denied reports about the parade being directed against third country. “We have stressed several times that the celebrations are not targeting specific countries, not Japan, nor the Japanese people. It has no direct link to current Sino-Japanese relations,” China’s Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Ming said.

There are many countries, including the US, Britain and France, which will not be represented at the military parade in Beijing at the level of heads of state and government.

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