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Boycott Beijing’s False Victory Parade

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by Richard Fisher, Jr.
Published on May 7th, 2015

President Barack Obama and other democratic world leaders should not attend China’s massive military parade scheduled for early September commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two. Doing so would help legitimize China’s quest to dominate Asia and regularize an act of political obeisance to Beijing. 

Due to his aggression in the Ukraine and threats against other NATO members, Obama and other Western leaders already have told Vladimir Putin they will not be attending his 70th Anniversary military parade on 9 May.  Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping have coordinated and will be attending and sending troops to each other’s parade.  But China’s actions, both historical and current, provide the geopolitical and moral reasons for boycotting Beijing’s parade. 

Attending China’s parade would give its ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) credit and legitimacy whereas its wartime performance shows it deserves neither. Between 1937 and 1945 the “Chinese People’s War Against Japanese Aggression” killed between 10 and 20 million Chinese. The historic record clearly shows Mao Zedong’s policy was to avoid fighting Japan so that he could eliminate political rivals, secure political and material support from Josef Stalin, and prepare for his post-war revolution. Mao’s strategy worked; the Nationalist Government of Chiang Kai Shek was weakened by the burden of fighting Japan with the U.S., and was forced to flee to Taiwan after losing to Mao’s revolution in 1949.  

Attendance would also legitimize China’s quest for military supremacy in Asia.  A massive military parade will give Xi Jinping two opportunities this decade, the second being the annual CCP anniversary parade in 2019, to unveil many new weapons.  Both will be used to advance the notion of impending Chinese military ascendance over the United States, and will undermine our Asian friends’ confidence in their military alliances with Washington. By attending its parade the U.S. will show that it is oblivious to China’s intent. 

If it attends Beijing’s parade, Washington will strengthen China’s goals of isolating Japan and accelerating a new era of Chinese strategic-political ascendance in Asia. Russian and Chinese commentators mention their commemorations seek to affirm the “Yalta System,” which for Russia means regaining control over Eastern Europe, and for China, means preventing Japan’s effective military rearmament. Attendance would also affirm the CCP’s decades of piling wartime guilt on Japan to stoke nationalist hatred by Chinese, which the Party uses to justify and bolster its dictatorship. Meanwhile, the CCP has no intention to seek justice for the 60 to 70 million Chinese who died from Mao’s excesses.    

Finally, expect that Beijing will make this parade a once-a-decade opportunity to pressure countries to demonstrate respect. China first did this in 2008 when it successfully lobbied over 80 world leaders, including George W. Bush, to attend their Summer Olympics—a project led personally by Xi Jinping.  Such spectacles not only allow the Party to demonstrate its power to the Chinese people, but also give the Party an opportunity to gradually groom foreign elites to show greater “respect” while also stifling their complaints about China’s behavior. Leaders who learn this lesson faster can expect to benefit earlier from Chinese economic and political power.  

What will China do with its accumulating power?  When it decides it can overwhelm its indigenous and American defenders, China will very likely invade and destroy the democratic government on Taiwan, and then turn that island into a nuclear weapon base to strategically isolate Japan and South Korea. Showing harsh contempt for nearly two decades of diplomacy by Southeast Asian states, China is now pouring sand to build seven new island bases in the South China Sea which will enable future military operations against other claimants. 

In Latin America, China is now poised to start re-arming Argentina to enable a second war to capture the British territory of the Falkland Islands. Furthermore, China hopes to create an era of Latin hostility toward the U.S. by ensuring the survival of leftist regimes in Cuba and in the Venezuela-led “Bolivarian Alliance.”  North Korea’s nuclear missile that can reach Anchorage and Hawaii is viewed as “operational” by the Pentagon. Since 2012 this missile has a used a Chinese-built launcher-truck transferred in violation of UN sanctions, but Beijing acknowledges no responsibility for this new threat to Americans. 

Seventy years ago, Japan was defeated largely due to American and nationalist Chinese sacrifices and the U.S. aid which sustained the forces of Chiang Kai Shek. A free and democratic Taiwan, Japan, Philippines and South Korea are among the legacy of that heroic effort. Attending the CCP’s parade would not only legitimize its illegitimate claim on that victory, but would empower the CCP’s quest to diminish the freedom of Asia’s democracies.  

Richard D. Fisher, Jr. is a Senior Fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. 

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