BEIJING, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- China on Tuesday released details about the upcoming military parade, lifting the lid on the previously-hushed list of invited world leaders and guests.
WORLD LEADERS' ATTENDANCE
Revealing the much-anticipated list of foreign guests, Zhang Ming, vice minister of foreign affairs, told a press conference that 30 heads of state and government leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Republic of Korea (RoK) President Park Geun-hye, will attend the military parade on Sept. 3.
Other foreign leaders include South African President Jacob Zuma, Myanmar President Thein Sein, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang.
The list does not include Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. When asked about Abe's absence, Zhang said, "China has noticed that Abe will be skipping the event because of his parliamentary schedule. We have stressed several times that the celebrations are not targeting specific countries, not Japan or its people. It has no direct link to current Sino-Japanese relations."
The vice minister said China had always advocated the improvement of Sino-Japanese relations.
The top leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Kim Jong Un will not be attending, either. Instead, Choe Ryong-hae, a high-ranking official, will represent DPRK.
The attendees also include government representatives from 19 countries and heads of 10 international organizations, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Six former politicians, including former British prime minister Tony Blair, former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and former Japanese prime minister Tomiichi Murayama, have confirmed their attendance.
Ambassadors and envoys to China will also be present.
As the first non-National Day military parade, China has extended invitations to foreign troops.
Qu Rui, deputy chief of the Operations Department of the General Staff Headquarters of the People's Liberation Army, announced that nearly 1,000 foreign troops from 17 countries will participate in the parade.
Among them Belarus; Cuba; Egypt; Kazakhstan; Kyrgyzstan; Mexico; Mongolia; Pakistan; Serbia; Tajikistan; and Russia will each dispatch a 75-member formation to march in the parade.
While six others -- Afghanistan, Cambodia, Fiji, Laos, Vanuatu and Venezuela -- will send around seven people each, Qu said.
Thirty-one countries, including France and RoK, have promised to send high-level military delegations.
The troops will be grouped alphabetically according to their country names, and will follow the PLA foot formations.
All foreign troops are at the parade training base, training with their Chinese counterparts. They participated in parade rehearsals on Thursday and Saturday last week.
Zhang and Qu were both asked to comment on the absence of leaders and troops from the United States, Britain and France. Qu said that "history would not be changed by the attitude of certain countries".
"We respect the decisions made by countries, and we will extend our warmest welcome to all foreign troops and delegations that do attend," Qu added.
"We have invited leaders to join the Chinese people in celebrating this great day. It is, however, up to them who will attend," said Zhang.
Dismissing concerns that China is using the parade to flex its military muscles, Zhang said the event is merely a demonstration of China's aspirations for peace and its firm will to defend it.
"I believe China's peaceful development will continue to win the support, understanding and blessing of the world."
UNITED WE STAND
Upholding the shared victory of WWII, Zhang announced that dozens of foreigners acknowledged in China for their contributions, including veterans of the "Flying Tigers" will attend in person or send representatives.
In total, more than 100 foreign VIPs or relatives of wartime heroes from 15 countries will attend, including relatives of Canadian doctor Norman Bethune, and Japanese veterans who served in the Eighth Route Army, a counter-Japanese force.
In addition to the military parade, "Victory and Peace", a 90-minute gala is slated for Sept. 3, according to Dong Wei, vice cultural minister.
Dong said the gala would highlight China's role as a fundamental battlefield in Asia, and celebrate the Chinese people and the Communist Party of China.
"This was not just a victory for the Chinese people, but also for the world," said Qu.