Mainland China is getting a new public holiday and Hong Kong is expected to follow suit. September 3 will henceforth be Victory Day, “to commemorate China’s victory in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression”, according to a statement by the State Council. The official Chinese narrative of the Pacific war suggests the Chinese were the main force that vanquished the Japanese invaders. The Americans, who did most of the actual fighting, have been relegated to a sideshow.

The use of half-truths and embellishments to boost national standing is not an exclusively Chinese practice, nor is it new. In August 1900, when the troops of the Eight-Nation Alliance (Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) attacked Beijing in retaliation for the Boxer Uprising, during which many foreigners in China were killed, the Empress Dowager Cixi, her nephew, the Guangxu Emperor, and their ragtag retinue of officials and soldiers fled westwards to seek refuge in Xian. To uphold the dignity of the imperial house, the official statement was that Cixi and her court had gone for a “tour of inspection in the west”.

When peace eventually returned to northern China, the Manchu court wormed its way back to Beijing, only to be overthrown a decade later by a republican government.