by Xinhua writer Liu Peng
SUVA, Aug. 27 (Xinhua) -- Fiji's troops that will be part of China's V-Day parade as well as the Pacific island country's high- ranking military officials invited to observe the parade are looking forward to the historic event, a senior Fijian military official said Thursday.
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua at the Suva-based Queen Elizabeth Barracks, headquarters of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), Col. Sitiveni Qiliho, land force commander of the RFMF, said the upcoming event in China will be an eye opener for him and his colleagues.
"First of all, it will be the biggest parade that I'll witness - - with over 10,000 troops on parade. That will be the biggest I will ever witness in my military (career) -- I've never been to such a parade," Qiliho told Xinhua.
On the invitation of the Chinese side, Qiliho, together with RFMF's Navy Commander Capt. John Fox and three other senior military officials, will fly to Beijing to watch China's V-Day parade on Sept. 3 that commemorates the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II and the victory of the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression. It is the first time that foreign armies will participate in a military parade in China.
A total of 12,000 troops, 500 pieces of equipment are expected to march through the Tiananmen Square. Nearly 200 aircraft are expected to fly overhead in formations.
A total of 17 foreign countries from the continents of Asia, Europe, Oceania, Africa and the Americas have sent troops to join the parade, including Fiji, whose seven troops have already rehearsed in Beijing together with their Chinese and other foreign counterparts.
"It is a great honor for the Republic of Fiji Military Forces that we're sending our troops to be part of such an occasion, even though it is a small number. We're a small country, and we have a small military, but we see the importance of being part of this parade," Qiliho said.
The RFMF, which is yet to have an air force, comprises around 3, 500 people, including around 3,000 service personnel from the land force and some 500 from the navy.
"Even though it is a small number that will be on parade, we'll be there to perform to the highest standards of the parade and we surely know we'll make an impact... We will be noticeable there on the parade crowd on the day," said Qiliho.
WAR OF SURVIVAL
Calling the anti-fascist WWII "a war of survival" for China, Qiliho commended the Asian country for the contributions it made towards the victory of the Allied forces.
"For China, it was more of a war of survival. Everything was at stake then and millions of Chinese had to make the ultimate sacrifice for peace and prosperity for its future generations. On the other hand, the biggest number of Japanese lost their lives during that war in its bid to occupy China," Qiliho said.
"In addition, China has contributed enormously to the outcome of the war and the years of peace that have prevailed since the surrender of the Axis countries. It should be also noted that China fixed the Japanese main effort during that war, and allowed other Allied countries to gain advantage to annihilate the axis forces in the Pacific, Asia and Europe -- that's the way we see," said the Fijian commander.
Fiji gained independence on Oct. 10, 1970 from British rule. The Pacific island country is a member of the Commonwealth.
During WWII, Fijians fought with the Allied forces against Japanese invaders in the Pacific Ocean theater to protect the Pacific people's homeland.
"Fiji was at war against the Japanese invasion of the Pacific at around that time as well when they came to the Pacific. Fiji went out and engaged them in the Solomon Islands, our neighboring country. And we know that the Japanese were also eventually defeated in that war in this part of the country, too," Qiliho said.
"As a soldier, a military person, it is really to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of peace and prosperity for future generations -- that would be the statement that soldiers like me would feel in regard to such a parade," Qiliho said when asked about the meaning of holding the V-Day parade.
Fiji established diplomatic relations with China on Nov. 5, 1975, becoming the first Pacific island country to do so.
"Fiji and China's relations have strengthened over the years, and it continues to get better -- not only at the military level, but with the two governments... For Fiji, we see that our relations we have now will always continue and never be replaced," Qiliho said.
"China has stood by us during our difficult times," he said, adding that China is still standing by Fiji now, respecting its sovereignty and continuing to assist the country. "So in that regards, our participation at that parade exemplifies the strong relations that we have and that will continue to grow," Qiliho said.
"This is a sign of strong relations that we've developed over a great number of years now, which may have not been noticeable, but we continue to send troops -- officers and our soldiers -- to China for military training, and what (is) a better way (other than) to reciprocate that by appearing on such an auspicious occasion as this parade to show our appreciation to the Chinese military by marching with them in this victory parade?"