Foreign soldiers interviewed by the Global Times said that peace was the main reason they were happy to be participating in China's upcoming military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII.
Nearly 1,000 foreign troops from 17 countries, including Russia, Cuba and Afghanistan, will participate in China's WWII parade in Tiananmen Square on September 3.
In an interview with the Global Times on Friday, several representatives of the troops shared details of their joint training sessions and rehearsal on August 20 and August 23 in the outskirts of Beijing.
These foreign troops need to adjust their paces, step and stride to match the "Parade March of the People Liberation Army."
"We need to widen our step and lean forward to keep the stride length at 75 cm," the leader of Egyptian formation Ahmed Elsayyad said. Egyptian formation train troops by marching on the spot and the instructors correct their steps constantly.
These requests are easier for Belarusian troops. The leader of the Belarusian formation told the Global Times that they have different demands for different ceremonies and the fastest step reaches 120 steps per minute.
"Our stride length was 80 cm and now we need to adjust it to 75 cm, 112 steps per minute," Hrytsau Anatoli said.
Kazakh soldiers are always the first to begin training and the last to finish every day. They begin training from 8 am, half an hour ahead of the schedule time and finish training until 6 pm, one hour later than the set time," a Chinese official involved in the parade rehearsal told the Global Times.
Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan, will attend the forthcoming military parade. The soldiers say this has inspired them to work hard.
The Russian soldiers for the march were specially picked, all being over 1.8 meters tall and holding college degrees. One of the Russian soldiers said that he had become accustomed to the temperature here though he was uncomfortable at first. He also expressed his admiration for Chinese soldiers whom he said performed perfectly in the parade in Red Square on May 9, hoping to offer the same excellence in ceremonial marching as his Chinese peers.
The Mexican delegation includes a group of 30 female soldiers who expressed their happiness at attending the parade, saying they were honored to have the chance to meet other soldiers from all over the world.
Alonso, a Mexican air force captain who gave only his last name, told the Global Times that Chinese soldiers are highly disciplined and train hard. Alonso said his country has also suffered from warfare, just like China and he feels it is the responsibility of soldiers to preserve the peace. He said attendance at the parade is a good chance to make friends with other countries and this is conducive to peace.
Soldiers from Cuba and Mongolia and other countries also expressed their willingness to maintain peace and develop friendship.
Afghanistan has only three soldiers, with an average age of 50, attending the parade but they are members of the honour guard. Shah Omar Yousofi, the director, told the Global Times that this is the second time they have gone abroad to attend a parade after parading in Red Square in Moscow on May 9.
Shah, who has more than 20 years of experience as a member of the honor guard under different regimes in Afghanistan, said "There have been no wars and conflicts between China and Afghanistan in past centuries. We want to express our desire and support for peace by coming to China to attend the parade."
China provided halal cuisine for visiting Muslim soldiers, and organized training times to respect their need for daily prayer. Most troops use arms provided in China.