China pledges to reduce military by 300,000 troops

Chinese military medics take part in a parade commemorating the 70th anniversary of Japan's surrender during World War II held in front of Tiananmen Gate in Beijing. (AP)

China's leader presided over a parade of tanks, missiles and troops that displayed growing military might on Thursday as fighter jets roared overhead, but has pledged a 300,000 reduction in troops in a bid to show his country poses no expansionist threat.

The massive parade through the heart of Beijing commemorated Japan's World War defeat seven decades ago, with helicopters zooming across the sky in an array forming the number 70, but the event also underlined President Xi Jinping's determination to make China the pre-eminent Asian power.

Xi kicked off the proceedings with a speech at the iconic Tiananmen Gate in the heart of Beijing, flanked by Chinese leaders and foreign dignitaries, including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"The experience of war makes people value peace even more," Xi said. "Regardless of the progress of events, China will never seek hegemony, China will never seek to expand and will never inflict the tragedies it suffered in the past upon others."

To underline that point, Xi said the 2.3-million-member People's Liberation Army would cut 300,000 troops to about 2 million. However, it would still remain the world's largest standing military and the reduction comes at a time when growing technological capabilities reduce the need for large numbers of troops.

Last Update: Thursday, 03 September 2015 KSA 12:30 - GMT 09:30