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(3rd LD) Park attends military parade in China

All News 13:51 September 03, 2015

(ATTN: UPDATES with comments by Xi)
By Kim Kwang-tae

BEIJING, Sept. 3 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye attended a massive military parade in Beijing on Thursday as China commemorated the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Park, wearing a yellow jacket and sunglasses, stood alongside her Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin and other dignitaries on the balcony of the Gate of Heavenly Peace as a 70-gun salute was fired at Tiananmen Square in central Beijing.

Tens of thousands of Chinese soldiers goose-stepped through the square while some of about 200 aircraft involved in the festivities flew overhead.

Among some of the military hardware to be displayed are inter-continental ballistic missiles, ZTZ-96A main battle tanks, HJ-12 anti-tank missiles and H-6K mid-range strategic bombers, according to Chinese state-run media.

Western leaders skipped the military parade, widely seen as a show of force of an assertive China. The United States decided to have its ambassador to China attend the ceremony, rather than sending a senior official from Washington.

During the ceremony, Xi spoke of China's commitment to peaceful development.

"We Chinese love peace. No matter how much stronger it may become, China will never seek hegemony or expansion. It will never inflict its past suffering on any other nation," Xi said, according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency.

Park's decision has drawn some criticism that South Korea may be tilting toward China, but it underscores Seoul's latest attempt to secure Beijing's cooperation in persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

China is believed to have significant leverage over North Korea, which has long been dependent on Chinese diplomatic support and economic aid.

At Wednesday's summit talks, Park and Xi warned North Korea against conducting missile and nuclear tests, in the latest strong message against Pyongyang.

The warning came as Choe Ryong-hae, a key confidant to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, arrived in Beijing for the military parade.

Kim has never visited China since taking power in late 2011, following the sudden death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in a symbolic move that reveals the strained relations between the two traditional allies.

On Wednesday, Park and Choe attended a welcoming banquet hosted by Xi for dignitaries, though Park did not encounter Choe, presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook said.

Park met Putin at the banquet and exchanged opinions on bilateral relations and the situation on the Korean Peninsula, Cheong Wa Dae, South Korea's presidential office, said, without elaborating.


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