05/09/2005, 00.00
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Beijing to "rewrite" the history of World War Two

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China wants to rewrite the history of World War Two to extol the role played by the Chinese Communist Party.

A directive to this effect was released on Saturday, May 7, when President Hu Jintao flew to Moscow for the 60th anniversary celebrations of the end of the war in Europe.

Unlike Europe, China intends to give the upcoming August celebrations a highly nationalistic tone and forcefully publicise the fact that the victory was achieved "under the banner of the anti-Japanese united front advocated by the Communist Party."

According to Beijing, the Party was the "pillar of the united national front during the war [. . .] with the participation of people of all races, all democratic groups and anti-Japan groups, as well as people from all walks of life in China [and] overseas."

But Zhao Dagong, a Shenzhen-based writer, said the party was engaging "in wholesale distortion of history" by claiming all credit for the defeat of the Japanese. [. . .] In China, the party—with its ragtag army of guerrilla fighters—fought the Japanese in an alliance under the leadership of the Nationalists, that is the Kuomintang," he said.

"During the eight-year war of resistance, the Nationalist army suffered most of the casualties in direct combat, but for decades mainland history books have stated the opposite," he added.

The Japanese invasion of China started in the early 1930s with the occupation of the north-eastern provinces and the establishment of a puppet regime. The war formally began in 1937 and ended with Japan's surrender in August 1945.

For other analysts, this crude distortion of the facts weakens Beijing's moral authority and might ignite street demonstrations in the wake of the recent Sino-Japanese spat.

Instead, China should have tried to moderate anti-Japanese sentiments among public opinion. It should have invited leaders of other Asian countries victimised by Japan during the Second World War to join in condemning militarism. It should have also asserted the historical truth and acknowledged the role played by Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang government, something ignored in school textbooks so far.

This "blatant disregard of facts" appears even more dishonest after the warm reception given to the current Kuomintang leader Lien Chen and to People First Party leader James Soong. (PB)


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