China to hold parade, invite leaders to mark end of World War Two

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will hold a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two this year and invite the leaders of major countries involved in the war to attend, the foreign ministry said, events probably aimed at Japan. Sino-Japan relations have long been poisoned by what China sees as Japan's failure to atone for its occupation of parts of the country before and during the war, and Beijing rarely misses an opportunity to remind its people and the world of this. In the last two years, ties have also deteriorated sharply because of a dispute over a chain of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea, though Chinese and Japanese leaders met last year in the capital, Beijing, to try to reset relations. President Xi Jinping will oversee events including the military parade, a reception and an evening gala, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement late on Monday. Besides the leaders of major participants, China will also invite those of other countries in the region, the ministry said. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying declined to specify the countries, but said "leaders of all relevant countries" would be invited. "The goal (of the parade) is to show that China and the people of the world have the capability and determination to defend world peace," Hua said at a daily news briefing. "It is not to flex muscles for anyone." Guests will also include the heads of the United Nations and other international bodies, as well as people who helped China win the war. "We hope these commemorative activities will help remind all kind-hearted people of the aspiration and pursuit for peace, make them work together to prevent a repetition of this historical tragedy and safeguard the outcomes of World War Two," the ministry said. The Chinese people "made a huge sacrifice" in the war, it added. The military parade, likely to be held in September, will be Xi's first since he took over as Communist Party and military chief in late 2012 and as state president in early 2013. Troops are already drilling in secret on the outskirts of Beijing for the event, sources have told Reuters. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Michael Martina; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Nick Macfie)