This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Historical Versions of Choice

"As social conflicts continue to sharpen, the party needs to divert attention, and of course a parade is a good way to do that by whipping up nationalist fervour."
Zhang Lifa, historian, Beijing

"Every emperor has his weakness, and Xi wants to demonstrate his might and prestige."
"The parade is a chance for the Communist Party to show its gleaming knives and shiny boots so the people will submit to the fear and the charm."
Hu Jia, Chinese dissident
Chinese soldiers get off trucks at Tiananmen Square as preparations continue for an upcoming military parade in Beijing on Sept. 1, 2015. China is set to hold a military parade on Sept. 3, marking the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. (Photo: Wu Hong, European Pressphoto Agency)

China has created a new national holiday. It is prepared to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. Events to mark that celebration are planned across the country, with a three-day holiday and a spectacle of martial might to be paraded through Beijing. The festivities are on special order of President Xi Jinping, and predate the current financial crisis roiling the Communist Party and rumbling through global stock markets.

But it is, given the circumstances, a serendipitous distraction for a population that has reason now to be concerned about the economic future of their country, along with their own financial comfort. The slumping stock market and the devaluation of the yuan is of huge concern to the Chinese administration in Beijing, and to the rest of the world, not least the United States with fears of China dumping American securities assets.

China's president has a vision of a "rejuvenated" China, as a rising military power whose rivals tremble before its might. Its focus most notably is on Japan, the once-militant country whose island nation acted as imperial conquerors in its brutal invasion of China and Korea. And it is laying claim to the version of history that it plans for posterity, that the Communist party ended the 14-year Japanese occupation of parts of China.

A guest list has been prepared for Thursday's scheduled parade that includes leaders of nations that fought Japan or suffered through Japanese aggression. In the viewing stands at Tienanmen Square will be guests of honour, Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Park Guen-hye of South Korea. Conspicuously absent will be officials from the U.S., Australia, Indonesia and a few other regional nations.

The year 2019 will mark 70 years since Mao Zedong's Communists fought the Nationalist Chinese in a bloody civil war when the People's Republic of China emerged. China is altering history to suit its version of what should have taken place but hadn't actually. It was the Nationalist armies of Chiang Kai-shek, and not Mao's Communist guerrillas who engaged the Japanese. Of the three million Chinese soldiers estimated to have died in 1937-45, the majority were Nationalist soldiers.

The Communist soldiers, almost beaten at the time of the Japanese invasion, were busy rebuilding their troops behind enemy lines, once in a while ambushing Japanese troops. Chinese leaders are busy with the indoctrination of the Chinese public in emphasizing the atrocities committed by Japanese troops during the war. Anti-Japanese sentiment has been stoked so that young people feel rage over Japanese reluctance to apologize sufficiently for its wartime belligerent violence.

As for the infamous 1989 Tienanmen Square firing on and killing an estimated thousand protester students, let alone the deadly famine, chaos and social violence of Mao's policies: "We don't learn that much about those things at school. China has a long history and the things you mention are just a tiny portion of our past", a university student who is a journalism major stated to a Western journalist.

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