Translation the problem

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 September, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 September, 1998, 12:00am

I would like to take issue with Marshall Berdan's accusation (South China Morning Post, September 11) of a so-called 'obscene travesty' in the name 'Sino-Japanese War Victory Day'. First of all, let me point out that his anger is directed at the wrong party. The term 'Sino-Japanese War Victory' is only used in the English media. The Chinese term means 'Victory of the War of Resistance to Japanese'. No reference is made to 'Sino', or 'Chinese', in this context.

The victory was not to celebrate China winning the war, which it did not, but to celebrate eight years of resistance and final liberation. In fact, this holiday used to be called 'Liberation Day'. I was born right after the war, and I still hear my grandmother's and parents' words over and over again that, without the Americans, we would not be here today. So, please, do not lecture us on gratitude.

Be that as it may, there were two major wars in the past 100 years generally referred to as 'Sino-Japanese' wars. The first was in 1894; the second in 1937 which later exploded into World War II.

In the latter war, China was alone for more than four years in its resistance against the Japanese. In fact, Britain and France had signed a pact with the Japanese in the 1930s and physically blocked the supply routes to China. It was not until 1941 - when Japan invaded other Southeast Asian countries and attacked Pearl Harbour - that it became the Asia-Pacific War, and China did get help from outside.

About 60 million Chinese died as a direct result of the eight-year war of Japanese aggressions; many more millions died in the rest of Asia. And yes, there was resistance in China during the eight years, just like there was resistance in France. All suffering is equal, so please do not insult the memory of one country's sufferings just because a name has been mis-translated or misused.