MANILA Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada should be commended for attending today’s military parade marking Japan’s defeat in World War II. He is right that since Manila is a sister city of Beijing, and he was invited to Beijing and grace the event, he should be there.
Just as the apology he made on behalf of the Filipinos to Hong Kong and China for the killing of Chinese-Hong Kong people during the badly managed hostage taking at the Luneta grandstand, boosted people-to-people goodwill between China and the Philippines, this action of Mayor Estrada again somewhat repairs the damage to Philippine-PRC relations caused by the BS Aquino government’s incompetence in dealing with China.
Like Mayor Erap, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder are in Beijing to attend the parade.
Last week, Erap led an emotional offering of prayers in remembrance of the 2011 Luneta hostage crisis. Chinese monks joined the former president in remembering the good souls of six Hong Kong nationals, one Canadian, and one British who perished in the tragedy caused by a dismissed police officer.
Thirty heads of state will be in today’s military parade. Among these are Russian President Vladimir Putin, South Korea President Park Geun-hye, Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain, Myanmar’s President Thein Sein, and Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang. China’s guests will also include the heads of state of each member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, in addition to China itself).
Only five of the 10 Asean member countries have sent highest-level political representatives. Aside from Vietnam’s and Myanmar’s presidents, Cambodia’s King Norodom Sihamoni, Laotian President Choummaly Sayasone, and Thai Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan are in Beijing. Unless they arrived in Beijing last night, no top-level representation has gone to the Chinese capital from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and our own country.
Surprisingly, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is also absent (unless he arrived in Beijing last night). Is this a sign of China’s having scolded NK’s Kim–as requested by the US and the EU leaders–for being bellicose toward South Korea and the West and firing missiles and making nuke bomb tests? North Korea will be represented by Choe Ryong-hae, secretary of the Korean Workers’ Party.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, a South Korean, is attending the memorial celebration of Japan’s WWII surrender.
From outside East Asia, among the top leaders in Beijing are Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, South African President Jacob Zuma, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.
China said it had invited all the countries involved as combatants in the Second World War. But the highest leaders of the United States and its Western allies are not in Beijing today. They are represented by their ambassadors in China or lower level diplomatic officials.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is of course not attending the celebration. Vice Minister Zhang Ming of China’s Foreign Ministry has graciously made excuses for the Japanese leader, saying that Mr. Abe is “skipping the event because of his parliamentary schedule.” Mr. Zhang also said the parade does not intend to target Japan and “has no direct link to current Sino-Japanese relations.”
Very meaningfully, China has invited former Japanese Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama whose 1995 statement about World War II containing an apology for Japan’s “aggression” and “colonial rule” is the measure used to gauge Japanese politicians’ attitude to China and the correctness of their view of history.