China’s president has declared his country’s army is strong enough to “defeat all invading enemies”.
Xi Jinping spoke at a large-scale parade designed as a show of strength and featuring 12,000 troops and about 700 armoured vehicles, missiles and aircraft.
Dressed in fatigues and speaking from an open-top jeep, President Xi told his troops that China needed a world-class military “more than ever”.
As he inspected personnel and hardware, he hailed each formation by shouting “Comrades, you’ve worked hard!”
China has the world’s largest military and the parade marked the 90th anniversary of the creation of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
Among the equipment on display was advanced weaponry including new variants of a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile and another missile designed to sink aircraft carriers.
Several H-6K bombers, the long-range aircraft recently involved in exercises near Japan and the South China Sea, flew overhead.
Although China has insisted its growing military is a force for stability and peace, its expanding presence in contested regions like the South and the East China Seas have worried neighbours and US allies in the Pacific.
Since coming to power in 2012, Xi Jinping has pushed for a stronger combat-ready military, while leading efforts to centralise the Communist Party’s control over it.
Speaking at the Zhurihe training base in China’s Inner Mongolia region, the president, who commands the PLA, said: “The world is not all at peace. Peace must be safeguarded.
“Today we are closer than ever before to the goal of the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and – more than any other time in history – we need to build a strong people’s military.
“I believe that our heroic army has the confidence and capability to defeat all invading enemies.”
The US has asked China to rein in North Korea’s nuclear ambitions but so far to little effect as Kim Jong-un escalates his country’s missile programme.