No Indian soldiers for WWII event

India is unlikely to send its soldiers to take part in the military parade China is holding in Beijing on September 3 to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, as New Delhi wants to avoid hurting the sensitivity of Japan, a close ally.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office is pondering over a proposal to send Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh or anyone else of equivalent rank in the Council of Ministers to represent India in the event to be held in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. The communist China, which has invited India to send a military marching contingent, remembers the end of the war as the its victory against Japanese aggression.

India, which shares a cordial relation with Japan, is not comfortable with the fact that strong anti-Japanese sentiments would be trumpeted at the commemorative parade in Beijing. PM Modi has a close relationship with his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe and the two countries have a common challenge in China in contemporary international politics. Modi’s visit to Japan in September last year saw the two countries elevating their bilateral terms to a ‘Special Strategic and Global Partnership’.

Though the government is yet to take a call, senior officials told Deccan Herald that the level of New Delhi’s representation in Beijing would not be as high as it was during a similar commemorative ceremony held in Red Square in Moscow in May. While President Pranab Mukherjee joined his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and other foreign leaders to witness the parade on that occasion, Indian soldiers marched with troops of Russia and nine other countries.

The Chinese are keen to have a similar high-profile Indian representation in Beijing, led by either Mukherjee or Vice President Hamid Ansari.

 Apart from Putin who has confirmed his presence and South Korean President Park Geun-hye who may accept the invitation, no other foreign leaders have so far confirmed participation in the event.

New Delhi, however, is cautious over offending the Chinese. Apart from the perennial border issue and factors like Pakistan, the United States and the South China Sea dispute that often cause irritants in the two neighbours’relation, Beijing has also been upset over New Delhi’s invitation to Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force to join the Indian and American naval forces for an exercise in the Indian Ocean in October.

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