Understanding the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender.

There has been a lot of press coverage about the military parade China held to mark the 70th anniversary of the Japanese surrender that ended the Second World War, sometimes referred to as the Second Sino-Japanese War, and known in China as the War of Anti-Japanese Aggression.

It was reported that most Western nations did not attend, fearing the parade would send the wrong signal in a volatile region. Of course, this is one possibility, and we must assume that the Chinese were aware of such.

The Chinese government understand that China’s continued development requires harmony within China and peace within the region. This is evident in her measured support for Pakistan, often acting as a brake to Pakistan’s more belligerent acts towards India, or it’s positive arbitration role with North Korea over it’s nuclear programme.

So what is happening with Japan? In fact to answer that question we need to go back a lot further than 70 years. Indeed, almost as many years again, to 1894, and the First Sino-Japanese War. It was a war, which, at the time, shook the Chinese establishment to the core. There was disbelief that Japan, a former tributary state, would dare go to war against China – the Chinese saw the relationship between the two countries akin to between an elder and younger brother. We must remember within Confucian societies such a relationship is hierarchical. For a younger brother to attack his elder brother was shameful on the younger. For the elder to be beaten by the younger was shameful on the elder. When Japan won a quick and decisive victory over China in 1895, it caused a paradigm shift in the way the Chinese saw themselves, and one which arguably lingers to this day. The defeat also acted as a catalyst to revolutionary fervour and movements to overthrow the Qing Dynasty.

As Japan claimed the spoils of war, including taking control of Taiwan and the now famous Diaoyu Islands, it caused a chain reaction, and 1895 marks the start of a second scramble for China. This culminated in the Boxer Rebellion – a rebellion against the Qing Court, which the court cleverly turned into a movement against foreigners. This led to an invasion by eight nations, including Britain, The US and Japan. As they moved form Tianjin to Beijing the Japanese became known for their particular brutality in treating the Chinese. In 1914 with the outbreak of the First World War, Japan, as Britain’s ally, invaded and took control of the German concession of Tsingtao (Qingdao). The Japanese then took the opportunity of the Western nations being preoccupied by war in Europe to present the infamous 21 Demands. Had China agreed to all 21 demands it would have made her a vassal state of Japan.

Despite siding with the allies and providing around 250,000 labourers to assist in the war against Germany and Austro-Hungarian Empire, 96,000 directly supporting the British war effort, China was betrayed at the Paris Peace Conference, and against China’s objections, Tsingtao was awarded to Japan.

Japan was then to use its foothold of Tsingtao to annex northeast China and establish the puppet state of Manchukuo as a precursor to full-scale invasion in 1937. What followed were eight years of war in which an estimated 20 million Chinese died, the majority were civilians. Japan perpetrated what are generally regarded as some of the most heinous acts of the Second World War, including the infamous Rape of Nanking, the widespread killing of civilians, the forcing of Chinese women into military brothels where they were repeatedly raped on a daily basis and medical experimentation camps in which Chinese were used as human guinea pigs for some monstrous experiments.

What is evident is that for 50 years, from 1895 until 1945, China was effectively helpless against Japanese militarism. To China, her perpetual weakness was a great humiliation – indeed, the period from the First Opium War (1839) to the end of the Second World War is known by the Chinese as the Century of Humiliation.

Although many historical issues remain unresolved between China and Japan, including sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands, the lack of a full apology for its war time atrocities and revisionist elements within Japanese school history textbooks, to see the military parade as primarily related to such issues is too simplistic. To see it as purely sabre rattling would be to seriously misplace the emphasis. The audience is first and foremost internal, its purpose one of assertion rather than warning.

Although the Century of Humiliation ended 70 years ago, its effect upon the Chinese psyche had been pervasive. It has shaped China’s foreign policy since the foundation of the People’s Republic in the country’s Five Principals of Peaceful Co-existence. The Five Principal’s are as much a lesson in the way China was treated historically as they are a statement of current policy – which is effectively not to treat others as they have been treated. President Xi Jingling stated that the victory over Japan “crushed the plot of the Japanese militarists to colonize and enslave China and put an end to China’s national humiliation of suffering successive defeats at the hands of foreign aggressors in modern times.” He went on to say, “China will never seek hegemony or expansion. It will never inflict its past suffering on any other nation.” Whereas the Opium Wars were a long tome ago, much of what the President is referring to is within living memory.

We should therefore see the parade as a message to self. China is no long the Sick Man of Asia, it is no longer weak and vulnerable, and can no longer be bullied as it once was. In short, the shame of the Century of Humiliation is now over.

This entry was posted in History, International Relations, Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Understanding the military parade marking the 70th anniversary of Japan’s surrender.

  1. Twicsy says:

    Magnificent goods from you, man. I’ve have in mind your stuff prior to and you are simply extremely great.
    I actually like what you’ve received here, really like what you’re stating and the best way
    by which you are saying it. You are making it entertaining and you
    still take care of to keep it smart. I can not wait to read much more from you.
    That is really a tremendous web site.

  2. idnpoker.com says:

    This page truly has all the information I needed concerning this
    subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  3. zaimyonlines says:

    Получить наличные сейчас! Жми и Получи наличные уже сейчас!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *