China's Xi commemorates start of war with Japan
By Kelly Olsen ,AFP
July 8, 2014, 12:08 am TWN
BEIJING -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday commemorated the 77th anniversary of the official start of the war with Japan, condemning those who "ignore the iron facts of history" in a subtle jab at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Xi and a cast of hundreds of soldiers and schoolchildren gathered for a ceremony on the edge of the capital to mark the Marco Polo Bridge incident, a skirmish between Chinese and Japanese troops on July 7, 1937 that served as a pretext for Tokyo's forces to seize Beijing and triggeredthe Sino-Japanese war.
The event, carried live on state television, came amid a deluge of articles in China's state and Communist Party-controlled media linked to the anniversary and criticizing Tokyo for historical revisionism and moves towards potential remilitarization.
The conflict, commonly known in China as the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, left 20 million Chinese dead, according to Beijing's estimates.
It ended with Tokyo's World War II defeat in 1945.
"History is history and facts are facts"
Flanked by ageing war veterans and young students, Xi unveiled a slab-like sculpture marking the start of the conflict and praised the resistance of all sectors of Chinese society against what he described as Japan's "barbaric invasion" aimed at "annexing" China. Japan had already invaded Manchuria in 1931.
"There are still a small number of people who ignore the iron facts of history," Xi said, although he avoided mentioning Japan or Abe by name.
"History is history and facts are facts. Nobody can change history and facts," he added. "Anyone who intends to deny, distort or beautify history will not find agreement among Chinese people and people of all other countries."
In Taiwan dozens of slogan-chanting protesters tore up Japanese military flags and portraits of Abe, attempting to set fire to them before they were stopped by police.
Li Wei, chief Japan expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top government think-tank, said it was clear who Xi was referring to.
"It at least includes Shinzo Abe and people who deny history or are trying to gloss over history," she told reporters.