‘War is like a mirror. Looking at it helps us better appreciate the value of peace … We must learn the lessons of history and dedicate ourselves to peace’.1 These unexceptionable words were spoken by the Chinese president Xi Jinping on 3 September 2015. There was a certain ironic quality to them, however, since the speech took place as part of a major display of military discipline and technology at the parade commemorating the seventieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War in China. Media attention was focused on the twelve thousand troops who marched in Tiananmen Square, and on the absence of leaders in attendance from any of the major Allied nations, other than Vladimir Putin of Russia. However, one wider development reflected in the parade received relatively little attention: the major changes in China’s attitude towards the...

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