China’s 70th victory day celebration
China’s 70th victory day celebration commemorating the end of World War II has elicited much interpretation about the future thrust in China’s rise to power. While its leaders insist it was more of a commemoration to recollect the great sacrifices of their people against Japanese militarism, in truth, the grand military parade—where 84 percent of China’s military hardware was shown for the first time—was meant to convey two important historical facts purposely overlooked by Western historians. First, it was the first Asian nation to liberate itself from the yoke of imperialist domination. Second, their victory over Japanese militarism was a victory they owe it to themselves, and now looked upon as a model for countries still suffering from economic domination.
China, like the then-Soviet Union, was one of the few countries that liberated itself against their invaders. Their victory and their sacrifices are parallel; Russia suffered close to 24 million casualties, while China suffered more than 14 million. Thus, the victory day celebration from a historical perspective was a celebration to commemorate China’s victory against Japanese militarism. That is a historical fact that can never be distorted. Nonetheless, the celebration is not all about that heroic sequel for which the Chinese people fought, but on China’s continuing to rise as a modern and prosperous state. This now conveys a different but ominous message that no imperialist power can ever again invade and inflict humiliation upon the Chinese people.
The problem however with history is it is linked to politics. As the saying goes, “it is politics that gives historians something to write.” Thus, when modern historians interpret what China has achieved, they could not help but connect the historical past to what it has achieved today. One must not forget that China was an ally of the West in the fight against fascism and militarism, and the signing on Sept. 3, 1945 of Japan’s unconditional surrender did not end the war in China. The US and its allies continued to impose economic sanction against China that only ended when President Nixon visited that country in 1973.
The mindset of the West has always been focused in subjugating China. The rise of an economically prosperous China is the reason why other countries tremble at seeing China’s modern military hardware. It is some kind of colonial hangover that continues to linger in their minds. Most Western political analysts refuse to concede that China’s economic miracle would inevitably give rise to secure those economic interests. It is this principle of wanting to protect its legitimate economic interest that the West wants to exploit by equating its growing military strength to sow fear of Chinese expansionism.
There is much duplicity in this propaganda, for it seems only the West, particularly the US, has a vested right to maintain their military strength in Asia-Pacific region. For Asian countries, to question that could just as easily cause a pivot to deter them from pursuing their own independent policies consistent with their national and economic interests. It is the same propaganda line why our leaders are being made to believe that the growth of China’s military power, which is concomitant to the growth of its economic interest, is from their point of view that China is bound to commit aggression against its neighbors.
It is noteworthy to point out that the victory of China against Japan is an achievement separate from its phenomenal economic growth. The military parade was intended to remind all countries that never again will they allow aggression and humiliation to be inflicted upon their people. There is in the West a continuing denial in China’s attempt to correlate that it is doing everything to prevent another war. Japan and the US refuse to accept the postulate that as China’s economic interest grows, it would necessitate the safeguarding of those legitimate interests. They refuse to accept that the same US Pivot Asia policy and the change in Japan’s pacifist constitution to allow its armed forces to participate in military operations outside its territory have engendered the same suspicion why China has to build up its own armed forces, and the nexus that made China and Russia closer in their relations unprecedented since the Second World War.
The speculative thought that China is about expand its sphere of influence by becoming another hegemon is exactly the opposite to the reassuring statement made by President Xi Jing Ping during the celebration saying that China “will continue to adhere to the same doctrine not to commit aggression, but will be firm to maintain the same strategic defense in securing it sovereignty.” China’s expanding economic role that now stretches from Latin America to Africa is the root of that xenophobic fear for which many developing countries gravitate towards it for the building of their infrastructure. China’s offer to share its economic prosperity is not fear for a possible war, but a US fear of political isolation that in simplest connotation means the decline of its influence in Asia.
This now has forced nations to redraw their attitude towards that China, not on the basis of ideological allegiance, but on the basis of the political realities of extending a modus vivendi to increase economic ties under the new system of partnership introduced by China. This became apparent when South Korean President Park Geun-hye and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki–moon attended the victory day parade. Japan has complained about the presence of the UN Secretary General, while the US tried to put diplomatic pressure for President Park not to attend. In any case, the US failed to analyze that China achieved a diplomatic coup applying the tested approach of “win-win” diplomacy.
Maybe North Korean President Kim Jung-un has his reason not to attend. Nonetheless, one cannot set aside the possibility that China provided the North Korean President the assurance that South Korea will not start another war in the peninsula.
South Korea, on the other hand, is just as eager to strengthen its economic ties with China which was rather accelerated because of its growing rift with Japan over those islands in the North China Sea and the unsettled issue of compensation for the Korean women who were forced into prostitution during the war, which Japan refuses to make an apology.
Moreover, South Korea has doubts that North Korea planted the land mine. Rather, it has more reasons to suspect it was done to provoke another war which South Korea would have more to lose but noting to gain in having to wage war with its northern brothers. South Korea perhaps drew their lesson to what happened to Japan. Japan’s economy continues to suffer as trade with China continues to decline. The US policy has not been able to fill up that gap lest reciprocate to the vacuum for supporting its policy. This now spells out the correctness in China’s perseverance for a win-win formula as an alternative to the confrontational approach that is meant to satisfy the lust for chauvinism which in the end, nobody wins.