China marks 70th anniversary of the end of Second World War

Chinese President Xi Jinping has pledged to cut 300,000 troops from its army, as the country commemorates the 70th anniversary of the end of Second World War.

The announcement at the start of a massive parade today in Beijing brings the armed forces’ headcount down to about 2 million, still making it the world’s largest standing military.

President Xi gave no specific reason for the reduction, but bracketed his announcement with assertions of the Peoples Liberation Army’s mission to protect China and uphold the sacred task of ensuring world peace.

The announcement could be seen as an attempt to soften the impact of today’s spectacle that saw 12,000 troops, which also had about 1,000 foreign troops from 17 countries participating in the military parade for the first time, march through the centre of the Chinese capital.

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