VJ DAY REMEMBERED : China mutes the voices of victory

VJ Day in China was, above all, a carefully-scripted event. The Communist Party staged it in an attempt to stir nationalist pride and boost its historic claim to the nation's loyalty.

President Jiang Zemin made his way to Marco Polo bridge, on the outskirts of Peking, where the Sino-Japanese war began on 7 July, 1937, and declared the Anti-Japanese war "the first time in modern Chinese history that our people won absolute victory against foreign invaders". The People's Daily celebrated with a youthful picture of Chairman Mao and a long article on "The superb strategy of Mao Tse-tung in directing the Anti-Japanese war". China expressed appreciation for the apology made by Tomiichi Murayama, the Japanese Prime Minister, although it reiterated that some Japanese "are still unable to adopt a correct attitude", and that Tokyo must "face up to history".

Overall, there was little to offend Japan. The tone was set weeks ago; Peking wanted to settle historical accounts without jeopardising Japan's present-day economic role in China.China's leaders know they cannot afford to insult Tokyo. In the first quarter of 1995, Japan was China's biggest trading partner and bilateral trade is forecast to reach $50bn (pounds 33bn) this year; Japanese companies are key investors and providers of technology to China and Tokyo is the biggest aid donor, already providing 1,681bn yen (pounds 11bn) of soft loans - and promising more.

The leaders are wary of the assertion that Japan has replaced its former military might with economic clout. Among the older generation, the brutality of Japan's occupation is not forgotten. According to Peking's figures, 21 million Chinese were killed and 14 million injured in the 1937-45 Anti- Japanese War, and the economic loss to China was $500bn. The country suffered many of Japan's worst wartime atrocities: the 300,000 killings of the December 1937 Rape of Nanking the germ-warfare tests which murdered unknown thousands and barbaric medical experiments performed at the notorious Camp 731 in Manchuria, the north-east part of China which the Japanese occupied in 1931.

Yet 50 years later, both countries know that theirs is the most important relationship in East Asia. The potential strains, however, remain immense. The two nations are increasingly jockeying for position as the dominant Asian power.

For Japan, the big issues are China's military expansion and its nuclear- test programme. Tokyo is concerned about China's rising defence budget, military modernisation and claims to the South China Sea and the Spratly Islands. On nuclear testing, Tokyo has been unusually forthright. After the test in May, Japan reduced China's 7.8bn yen (pounds 51m) of "grant aid". On Thursday, Tokyo indicated further cuts in humanitarian assistance - but ruled out any impact on yen loans.

Peking has its own complaints. When Mr Murayama visited in May, the Chinese failed to persuade Japan to renegotiate interest payments on yen-denominated loans, which have soared with the strengthening Japanese currency. China protested strongly over the Dalai Lama's visit in April to Japan. And it has put pressure on Tokyo not to follow the US in upgrading links with Taiwan when Taipei is represented at a regional forum in Osaka in November.

Against this sensitive background, the Chinese government shied from Japan-bashing in the run-up to VJ Day. Since mid-June, when the anniversary season was launched, China's commemoration has become the focus of nationalistic "patriotic education". The emphasis has been on the West's under-valuing of China's role in defeating the "Fascists", and on the Communists' superiority to the nationalist Kuomintang in fighting the Japanese.

For some, the anniversary has been good business. At Jiaozhuanghu, outside Peking, up to 6,000 people arrive each day, mostly work-group outings, to view the defensive tunnels built by villagers during the Anti-Japanese war.

And just so they realise what war in China was like, there is an "Anti- Japanese lunch" of corn bread, gruel and pickled vegetables.

FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam