China put on a flamboyant show of military force in a parade to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army, overseen by President Xi Jinping.
Troops, nuclear missile launchers and new stealth aircraft all featured in the parade at the remote Zhurihe training base in China’s remote Inner Mongolia region.
Zhurihe Training Base is Asia’s largest military training centre and features life-size mockup targets, including Taiwan’s presidential palace.
Xi, wearing military clothing, told troops that the ‘world isn’t safe at this moment’ adding that ‘a strong army is needed now more than ever.’
Among the petrifying display of weapons was China’s Chengdu J-20 stealth jet fighter as well as its new DF-31AG intercontinental ballistic missile. The rocket is mounted on an all-terrain vehicle to make it harder to track.
He said the Chinese military had the capabilities to ‘preserve national sovereignty, security and interests’ and demanded the troops’ show ‘absolute loyalty’ to the party
The PLA has undergone an extensive modernization programme with the strategic aim of competing with the US for regional dominance.
Hundreds of thousands of troops have been cut, and an anti-corruption purge has removed dozens of officers, while investing heavily in aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines and stealth fighters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin oversaw a pomp-filled display of Russia’s naval might as the Kremlin paraded its sea power from the Baltic Sea to the shores of Syria.
About 50 warships and submarines were on show along the Neva River and in the Gulf of Finland off the country’s second city of Saint Petersburg after Putin ordered the navy to hold its first parade on such a grand scale.
Putin told servicemen: ‘Today much is being done to develop and modernise the navy. The navy is not only dealing with its traditional tasks but also responding with merit to new challenges, making a significant contribution to the fight against terrorism and piracy.’
The showcase event to mark Russia’s annual Navy Day is the latest to be beefed up by Putin, with the Kremlin strongman also strengthening the traditional WWII victory parade in Moscow as he looks to flex the country’s military muscles.
Russia has ramped up its military manoeuvres as ties with the West have slumped over Moscow’s meddling in Ukraine, unnerving NATO and its members in Eastern Europe.
It came as Putin on Sunday said the United States would have to cut 755 diplomatic staff in Russia and warned of a prolonged gridlock in its ties after the US Congress backed new sanctions against the Kremlin.
Putin added bluntly that Russia was able to raise the stakes with America even further, although he hoped this would be unnecessary.
A US State Department official denounced the move as a “regrettable and uncalled for act,” adding that Washington was now weighing a potential response.
In response to Russia’s display, Georgia and the United States launched their biggest ever joint military exercises today in the latest show of support for the tiny Caucasus nation that has squared off against Russia.
The start of the drills comes a day ahead of a two-day visit to Tbilisi by US Vice President Mike Pence during which he is expected to reiterate Washington’s backing for Georgia’s wish to join NATO.
Some 800 Georgian and 1600 US troops are taking part in the Noble Partner 2017 drills – the largest ever in the Caucasus nation since it fought a brief war with Russia in 2008.
Georgia’s Defence Minister Levan Izoria called the scale of exercises ‘unprecedented’, insisting they will ‘make clear the support for Georgia by the NATO member states, especially the US.’
The US has sent some of its M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks and M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles across the Black Sea for the drills, which will last until August 12.
The exercises also included 400 servicemen from Armenia, Germany, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
It comes a day after North Korea tested a ballistic missile that it claims can reach all of the United States, US President Donald Trump criticised China for not reining in Kim Jong Un and his missile program.
‘I am very disappointed in China,’ Trump wrote in a pair of Twitter posts. ‘…they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!’
North Korea’s test Friday of an intercontinental ballistic missile was its second of the long-range weapon in a month. The first on July 4 showed the missile had the range to reach Alaska.
Friday’s test was designed to show the Hwasong-14 missile’s maximum range with a ‘large-sized heavy nuclear warhead,’ a statement from Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency said.
It said Washington should regard the launch as a ‘grave warning.’