North Korea has put on a display of might in its military parades in Pyongyang, with Kim Jong-un making a rallying speech professing the country’s military strength.
With citizens of North Korea having been seen rehearsing for the day’s celebrations in past weeks, there has been an anticipated build-up to the 70th anniversary celebrations of the rule of its Workers’ Party, with some speculating that they may use the occasion to launch nuclear missile tests, prompted by the country’s declaration earlier this year that it possessed “cutting edge” weaponry for modern warfare.
Kim Jong-un presided over the parades from a viewing platform, and gave a rare televised speech laden with rhetoric, in which he paid respects to his late father and grandfather. He then boldly stated “Our party can confidently state that our revolutionary armament today can deal with any kind of war U.S. imperialists ask for, and we are fully ready to persistently defend the country’s blue sky and the well-being of the people.”
North Korea has long held the US as an enemy due to its close ties with South Korea. The two conflicting states of North and South Korea are still technically at war, as the armed conflict of 1950-53 ended in a truce rather than a treaty.
Kim Jong-un’s speech was followed by expertly choreographed military displays, with flag-bearers marching in unison and jets flying in a 70-shaped formation, as well as the city being closed off to traffic and streets filled with military vehicles.
China’s Senior Communist Party official Liu Yunshan attended the events – the highest-ranking official to visit the country since Kim Jong-un came to power after his father’s death in 2011 – and Mr Kim could be seen talking to throughout the events.
China’s official news agency, Xinhua, reported that Liu delivered a letter to Kim during his visit, from China’s president Xi, stating that China attached vital importance to its relationship with North Korea. It also expressed China’s desire to “seek closer communication and deepen cooperation” with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or Sino-DPRK, as North Korea is officially known.
Official news agency KCNA of North Korea reported that Kim had reiterated China’s desire to bolster ties. China is North Korea’s closest ally both politically and in terms of trade, although the relationship has been strained by the North’s nuclear programme, and the sanctions imposed upon the country by the UN and US.