China Rewrites History Books, Extends Second Sino-Japanese War by 6 Years
In a move that is likely to worsen its relations with Japan, China's communist government has ordered that all the country's history books be rewritten to extend the second Sino-Japanese war by six years.
The conflict has been known for generations as "the eight-year war of resistance against Japanese aggression."
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However, in a statement on Wednesday, China President Xi Jinping's government renamed the conflict to "14-year war of resistance against Japanese aggression." The statement also ordered that textbooks be revised and record it as lasting from 1931 to 1945. The war is usually recorded to be between 1937 and 1945.
The decision means that China considers that the war began in 1931, when the Imperial Japanese army invaded Manchuria, rather than six years later during the Marco Polo Bridge incident.
During the Marco Polo incident, Chinese and Japanese troops fought along a rail line South-West of China's capital, Beijing. Historians have traditionally considered this event as the beginning of a full-blown war between the two nations.
Despite many historians arguing that it was the Chinese nationalist party that did most of the fighting during World War II, Xi has worked hard to promote the participation and achievements of the country's Communists during the war.
"The communist party did very little to resist the Japanese during 1931-37, so why try to pretend otherwise?" opined historian Antony Beevor.
Beevor believes that China's action is an attempt to reverse the recent tide historiography, which recognizes that Chiang Kai-Shek and the nationalists have been treated unfairly by the Chinese Communist dogma, the United States government, and the journalists of the time.
Beevor said that Japan's reaction to the issue is hard to predict.