Party accused of distorting history
Nailene Chou Wiest in Beijing
It claims all the credit for wartime defeat of Japanese
Beijing has been accused of distorting history in its plans for second world war commemorations by focusing on the Communist Party's role in the defeat of the Japanese.
The directive, which was released on Saturday, sets out the central leadership's plans to mark the end of the war, as well as instructions for activities by lower-level governments.
Apart from requiring all war memorials and war exhibition halls to be opened to the public free, it lays down the theme for the commemoration.
'[We need to] widely conduct propaganda education on the historical experience of our victory against the Japanese,' the directive says, 'and forcefully publicise the fact that the victory was achieved under the banner of the anti-Japanese united front advocated by the Communist Party, with the participation of people of all races, all democratic groups and anti-Japan groups, as well as people from all walks of life in China, Hong Kong and Macau as well as overseas Chinese.'
All commemorative events must emphasise the party's role as 'the pillar of the nation's united resistance in the war'.
A select group of 'patriotic' people from overseas, anti-Japan war heroes or their relatives, and foreigners who contributed to the war would be invited to attend commemorative events, it said.
The announcement came on the eve of President Hu Jintao's departure for Moscow yesterday to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of the war with other world leaders in Europe.
But Zhao Dagong, a Shenzhen-based writer, said the party was engaging in wholesale distortion of history by claiming all credit for the defeat of the Japanese. While the Communist Party of the former Soviet Union played a central role in leading the fight and winning the war against the Nazis, in China, the party - with its ragtag army of guerilla fighters - fought the Japanese in an alliance under the leadership of the Nationalists, or the Kuomintang, he said.
During the eight-year war of resistance, the Nationalist army suffered most of the casualties in direct combat, but for decades mainland history books have stated the opposite.
Zhao said this 'blatant disregard of facts' appeared even more dishonest amid the warm reception given to the leaders of the KMT and its offshoot, the People First Party. The distortion also weakened Beijing's moral authority when demanding the Japanese face up to their atrocities in the war.
The Japanese invasion of China started in the early 1930s with the occupation of the northeastern provinces and the establishment of a puppet regime. The war formally began in 1937 and ended with Japan's surrender in August 1945.
Marking the end of the war poses a challenge to the central government, which must take care not to pour fuel on already strong anti-Japan public sentiment.