China will hold a massive military parade showcasing some of its most advanced weaponry to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the communist state, authorities announced Thursday.
It comes as the trade war with the US threatens to engulf the international economy, with Beijing and Washington’s navies jostling for influence in Southeast Asia, and continuing unrest in Hong Kong.
The military and civilian parade, held in the capital on October 1, is expected to be the biggest in its history.
“We have to point out that this military parade won’t be targeted at any countries or districts and any specific incidents,” said General Cai Zhijun, a member of the Chinese Army General Staff, at a press conference in Beijing Thursday.
Cai said that the size of the military parade was not a sign of aggression and the Chinese army was “committed to safeguarding world peace and regional stability.”
However, the largest army in the world “will show some advanced weapons for the first time,” he added.
Chinese president Xi Jinping is also set to make “an important speech” to the nation, said Wang Xiaohui, executive vice minister of publicity in the Communist Party of China’s Central Committee.
Other plans for the anniversary celebration include an awards ceremony, fireworks, souvenir stamps and coins, an official documentary, and a musical.
China held large military parades to mark the end of World War II as well as to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China being founded — but Cai said this parade would be bigger than both.
In 2015, thousands of troops marched in tight formation through Beijing’s Tiananmen Square followed by tanks and missiles, with a 70-gun salute and nearly 200 aircraft in a military flypast.
It has been a tough year for Xi, with months of the worst unrest in semi-autonomous Hong Kong since it was handed back to China in 1997.
Protesters in the financial hub have openly criticised an increasingly assertive Beijing, provoking fears China will resort to a heavy-handed intervention to stop the unrest.
However, many experts expect it to avoid any response until after the 70th anniversary celebrations.