This year marks the 70th anniversary of the victory of the War of the Chinese People’s Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War. In this important year, it is of great significance, for safeguarding world peace and preventing history from repeating itself, to look back at history, review its painful lessons, and protect the outcomes of World War II.
China was the main battlefield of the Second World War in Asia. The War of the Chinese People’s Resistance against Japanese Aggression started the earliest and lasted the longest, with the most severe conditions and the most painful sacrifices. The arduous and perseverant struggles of the Chinese people and army helped contain and finally terminate the large forces of the Japanese aggressors. With casualties totaling 35 million people, a great sacrifice for a nation, the Chinese people finally emerged victorious in the war against Japanese aggression. The War also provided strategic support for the Allies in coordination with strategic moves on the European and Pacific battlefields. In addition it checked and disturbed the attempt of the Japanese Fascists to collude with German and Italian Fascists. The victory restored the great country status of China in the world. The Chinese people thus won the respect of all peace-loving people in the world and a great reputation as a nation. We will never forget the countries and international friends that provided moral and material support to us. Neither will we forget friends from other countries who made the ultimate sacrifice on the Chinese battlefield.
In recent years, Japanese right-wing forces have committed perverse acts in relation to history, whitewashed and even denied the history of aggression. They insist on visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, where Class A war criminals of World War II are honored, while trying to cover the truth of the Nanjing Massacre and the forced recruitment of “comfort women.” These acts flagrantly challenge international justice and human conscience. They have not only been intensively condemned by the Chinese and Korean people as victims of World War II, but also strongly criticized by the Japanese people of conscience and the international community. Seventy years ago, Japan lost the war of aggression. Seventy years later, we do not want Japan to lose the conscience of humanity. Any statement or message about World War II from Japan will bear on the true reconciliation between Japan and its Asian neighbors, and serve as a touchstone for the international community to judge whether Japan will continue to follow the road of peaceful development.
Forgetting history means betrayal while remembering history is not to perpetuate hatred. The Chinese people are ready, along with all peace-loving countries and peoples, to resolutely oppose any acts that deny, distort or mutilate the history of World War II, as well as attempts to do so. The war launched by Japanese militarists not only brought tremendous disasters upon the Chinese people, but also caused the Japanese people to suffer. The responsibility for that war should be borne by a handful of militarists. China firmly believes our old saying “Lessons learned from the past can guide us in the future.” We hope the Japanese side can share the ancient wisdom, draw lessons from history, correctly view and properly handle the issue of history, and make a clean break with militarism. China is willing to develop bilateral relations with Japan in the spirit of “taking history as a mirror and looking towards the future,” but only if the Japanese side can correctly understand and reflect on its history of aggression.
Peace, progress and development are the eternal themes of human society. Humanity has not had better conditions than now to march towards the goal of peace and development. More efforts should be made to build a new type of international relations with the core of win-win cooperation. The Greek people battled courageously against the fascist aggression and paid a heavy price, for which China wants to show our respect and sympathy. Over the years, China and Greece have enjoyed mutual understanding on issues of one another’s core interests and major concerns. We have supported each other, helped each other in difficult times and forged a profound friendship. China sees Greece as an important strategic partner and is willing to strengthen high-level exchanges with Greece, as well as exchanges between the two countries’ legislative bodies. On the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, China will work together with Greece to expand pragmatic cooperation, achieve the revitalization of the two ancient civilizations, and make new contributions to the common progress of mankind.
* Zou Xiaoli is China’s ambassador to Greece.