China’s Anti-Fascist War Narrative: Seventy Years On and the War with Japan is Not Over Yet

In China, the war that ended with Japan’s surrender 70 years ago is known as the World Anti-Fascist War. Chinese communities in Melbourne and Sydney have been trying to get their tongues around this phrase all year to demonstrate their loyalty to Beijing at local commemorative events. This is certainly not what these communities called the war seventy years ago, nor was it known by that name among the Nationalist forces that bore the brunt of the war effort in China. The term had no currency in Nanjing, the capital of the Nationalist Republic, where Japanese imperial forces murdered 200,000 to 300,000 Chinese residents over several terrifying weeks in the winter of 1937-1938. At that time, the war was known simply as the War of Resistance Against Japan, or Anti-Japanese War.

During the war, Mao Zedong adopted the phrase Anti-Fascist War to signal his allegiance to Stalin, who was waging a war with actual fascism in Western Europe. Mao’s other purpose in adopting the term was to reduce Japan’s total war in China to a local site of world communism’s global war with capitalism. In this greater war, Great Britain and the United States were enemies of China and Soviet Russia no less than Germany and Japan. For a tactical moment, the international communist struggle was focused on Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy in Europe and on imperial Japan in Asia. In time it would train its sites on the liberal democratic states of Europe and North America. While the Nationalists were waging their War of Resistance Against Japan in central China, Mao was penning tracts on “war” and “contradictions” in his mountain redoubt in China’s remote northwest, looking beyond that particular war to the struggles and contradictions that would flow from Japan’s ultimate defeat.

In recent years, China’s communist government has extracted the term from its roots in the Red areas of the North China theater and extended it around the globe in commemoration of China’s contribution to the allied victory. The message conveyed at home and abroad through parades, exhibitions, and public events commemorating the seventieth anniversary of the war is not a comforting one to those who do not share Mao Zedong’s initial vision: the war with Japan was one more installment in China’s long-term competition with capitalist liberal democracies. Where Russia led the earlier anti-fascist war, China is now the paramount leader of an alliance of anti-Western forces in a renewed struggle with the liberal-democratic West.

History of War and Political Legitimacy

The history of war matters in China because it touches on the foundations of political legitimacy. The Communist Party’s claim to rule rests not on mechanisms of popular election or plebiscite but on an historic victory in the civil war that the Party waged against the national government of China. By one line of reasoning this is simply the way things work in China: regimes are legitimated by victory and remain legitimate until they are undermined or overthrown by others. In late imperial times, the single necessary and sufficient condition for political legitimacy was demonstrated prowess in unifying the territorial state by force. Before the Song Dynasty emperors and their court philosophers had based their claims to legitimacy upon a variety of ethical and political considerations that reflected well on their particular imperial houses. In the Song, however, the scholar and statesman Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072) crafted a definitive work on political legitimacy, On Political Succession (Zhengtong lun), affirming that the key principle was the capacity to unify the territorial state: rulers who succeeded in unification, irrespective of their ideology or ethics or the means to which they had resort, were to be recognized as legitimate. This was demonstrated in capturing through war whatever territories the empire claimed as its own.

In the People’s Republic, the implicit connection between historical victory and political legitimacy is rarely acknowledged by senior Party figures in public. In a recent exception, Wang Qishan, a key member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, put the connection succinctly:

The legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party derives from history. It’s determined by the sentiments of the commoners, the choice of the People.1

At the time he spoke, some commentators saw Wang’s reference to “legitimacy” as implying that the Party’s legitimacy was contingent, not absolute, and that he was offering an oblique acknowledgment of the fragility of the Party’s grip on power. To be sure, the focus of his talk was on the need for the Party to deliver on its promises today as it had done at some earlier moments in its history. But Wang’s elaboration on the historical foundation of the Party as ultimately reflecting the sentiments and choices of the People is no less revealing than his comment on legitimacy.

In using the term “sentiment of the commoners,” Wang was drawing on a centuries-old expression about the rise and fall of dynasties, which concludes “their downfall or survival is determined by the Mandate of Heaven, the sentiment of the commoners.2 Wang omitted the term “Mandate of Heaven” and inserted in its place the modern terms “choice” and “People,” but his point would not have been lost on an imperial official. The People ultimately exercise choice, much as Heaven once exercised its mandate, through the wars and uprisings that bring regimes to office and eventually bring them down.

When the historical accidence of war or uprising is the primary mechanism through which a People exercises political choice, the party in power needs to show extreme vigilance over who tells the story of the wars that brought it to power and how these stories are told. The legitimacy of the Communist Party is based not just on what it delivers to the People but on the way it shapes historical memories of war, including the War of Resistance Against Japan. All histories in China whether told through cultural institutions, textbook publishers, schools, colleges, or other media are required to conform to an authorized national narrative and specific propaganda tasks assigned to localities, colleges, and the wider cultural industry. The import of these authorized national narratives has shifted appreciably over the decades from a revolutionary narrative of class struggle during the communists’ first thirty years in power (1949-1978) to a reformist narrative of national wealth and power over the following three decades (1979-2008) to the current era of the China Dream of National Rejuvenation (2009-), in which the country asserts authority over its neighbors and takes on the hegemonic United States in order to restore China to the position it presumably enjoyed at the height of empire. Despite these radically different historical paradigms, the system of Party authorization and control of what can and cannot be said about China’s history has barely changed.

The Nanjing Massacre

Along the way, much of China’s modern history could not be uttered at all. Even the 1937 Nanjing massacre, the centerpiece of current efforts to commemorate the Anti-Japanese War, was a taboo subject for three decades from 1949 to 1979. Hundreds of millions of children who attended schools in China in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s knew nothing about the massacre until they were permitted to learn as adults in the 1980s. Today, commemorations surrounding the massacre on the seventieth anniversary of the war are introduced with slogans such as “we can forgive but we cannot forget,” “don’t forget national humiliation,” and “remember history.” Yet it was only in China that the Nanjing massacre was truly forgotten.

Knowledge of the Nanjing massacre was suppressed for three decades in China for partisan reasons bearing on the legitimacy of the communist government. It took place in Nanjing, the modern capital of the Nationalist Republic, and sympathetic references to Nanjing were unwelcome in Mao’s China. The communists derived legitimacy from an historical claim to have overthrown a Nationalist government that had allegedly sold out the country to Japan and the United States. Further, they transferred China’s capital from the republican capital of Nanjing to the old imperial city of Beijing. Either way, Nanjing city had little to recommend it as a site for communist commemorations of recent history. This applied equally to histories of the Nanjing massacre as to histories of the Nationalist Republic in Nanjing. When a group of concerned historians in that city researched the massacre without central Party authorization in the 1950s and early 1960s, they were denied permission to publish their account. Their book-length manuscript drew upon first-hand evidence from interviews with local residents and survivors.3 Further opportunities to collect and record the tales of survivors were lost as memories of the massacre were buried beneath approved histories of communist heroism and nationalist treachery.

As a consequence, barely a scholarly article appeared on the massacre from 1949 to 1979. After Deng Xiaoping took power the subject was no longer taboo but it was some years before scholarly work found its way into print. Research publications touching on the massacre grew apace from the mid-1990s. In contrast to the silence that prevailed over the first three decades of the People’s Republic of China, over the three decades from 1984 to 2014, references to the Nanjing massacre in Chinese scholarship expanded 125-fold. The massacre has emerged from nowhere to become one of the most widely cited historical events in the history of modern China. (See Chart 1)

Chart 1nanjing massacre publication:prc articles and dissertations 1979~2014

Data from China Academic Journals Full Text Database, accessed February 18-22, 2015 employing title and keyword searches for Nanjing massacre in academic articles and theses published between 1979 and 2014.

Today, the Nanjing massacre has emerged from the shadows to become the focus of a carefully cultivated collective memory of China’s invasion and subjection, not just by Japan, but by Western powers. With a museum dedicated to its victims, dozens of books documenting the events involved, prominent mention in school textbooks, and a number of films presenting these events to the public in accessible form, the massacre has emerged as a fitting site for remembering China’s “century of humiliation.” In 2014, the anniversary of the massacre, December 13, was declared a national day of mourning. President Xi Jinping visited Nanjing to preside over the inaugural commemorative event that year.

Rather than concede that the sorry state of knowledge of the massacre is due to the silence that prevailed for thirty years in China, the Party attributes responsibility for the silence to militant Japanese nationalists who deny the massacre took place. To be sure, a small group of right-wing fanatics in Japan routinely denies the massacre, sustaining the impression cultivated by the communists that the world beyond China conspires to hide the truth. But for three decades the truth was more widely acknowledged in Japan than it was in China, and the liberal West was never in any doubt about the massacre then or now. Despite claims to the contrary, it was widely reported internationally at the time and has been covered in classrooms and in published works continuously since then. In China today, some of the most widely-quoted first-hand accounts are those left by American and European witnesses. Had China been prepared to tell the story earlier, the brutal massacre may have been more widely covered and commemorated in the West as well.

In recent years, China’s historians have been granted a rare license to collect and record available historical evidence and to place it on public display. They have shown beyond doubt that a massacre of unarmed civilians took place on a vast scale in Nanjing in 1937. At the same time, they have exposed embarrassing contradictions in the communists’ official account of the history of war and political succession in modern China. The evidence-based histories coming out of Nanjing highlight positive features of the Nationalist Republic at war. They show the government to have been committed to defending China’s national sovereignty, contrary to earlier claims, and they show foreigners—including American Christians—playing a crucially important role in protecting thousands of innocent Chinese civilians and ensuring that the story of the brutal massacre reached the world before it was silenced by the communists. The evidence that has emerged from Nanjing suggest that victory in the War Against Japan, involving the combined efforts of the Nationalists in China and Americans in the Pacific, brought China’s century of foreign incursion, invasion, and occupation to an end with the close of the war. China stood tall in 1945.4

The Japanese Invasion and the Humiliation by the West

Every student of Chinese history at home and abroad knows that China ‘stood up’ in 1949 not 1945. To dispel possible misunderstanding about when exactly China stood up in the world, or forestall possible confusion over China standing up twice within the space of a few years, the Communists have reduced the war of Japan to a theater of the greater conflict between Marxist China and the liberal West. The more evidence that emerges from Nanjing, the more urgent the task becomes to embed the limited War Against Japan within the wider war with the West from which China emerged triumphant in 1949. Today, the official history illustrating the People’s choice of communism is an overarching anti-Western account of national humiliation and communist-led rejuvenation stretching across several centuries. In this history, the Japanese invasion and occupation of China from 1931 to 1945 is a late but by no means final installment presented in the country’s key national museum as a sequential outcome of China’s encounter with the capitalist West beginning with the bourgeois-democratic revolutions that convulsed Europe and North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

This larger strategic picture frames the Urtext for all official history in China today, The Road to Rejuvenation (fuxingzhilu 复兴之路), a permanent exhibition on display in the National History Museum overlooking Tiananmen Square in Beijing. This vision in turn underpins Xi Jinping’s signature theme of the China Dream of National Rejuvenation (民族复兴与中国梦). Xi’s first public act on confirmation as Party general secretary in November 2012 was to lead members of his new Standing Committee on a tour of the Rejuvenation exhibition and lecture them on the responsibilities befalling the Party to remain true to the historical struggle to achieve the Dream of National Rejuvenation. Both the Road and the Dream rest on a bedrock claim that the unfolding of China’s history, illustrated through the exhibits on display, demonstrates the People’s selection, through war, of the communists and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought in leading them to their historical destiny in confronting the West.5

The exhibits on display in Beijing begin with an account of the British parliamentary revolution of the mid-seventeenth century and the storming of the Bastille in the French Revolution, presaging the birth of global capitalism and, in time, liberal democracy. The Japanese invasion and occupation of China in the mid-twentieth century appear as consequences of a domino effect initially triggered by the democratic revolutions that took place in Britain and France. This is not evidence-based history. To make its point, the exhibit ignores evidence of the destruction of liberal democratic institutions and aspirations in Japan as a condition for waging war in China. The substantial US contribution to the anti-Japanese war effort is limited to a few artifacts and an image of a downed United States Air Force (USAF) aircraft, similar to those used to illustrate US war crimes elsewhere. The primary contradiction on display, as Mao would have put it, is not the war between China and Japan but the global struggle between Chinese communism and the capitalist West, which is the underlying subtext of the Global Anti-Fascist War.

The Manchu Invasion of China

Historically the clearest parallel to the Japanese invasion of the 1930s was the Manchu invasion of China in 1644, which had little to do with Britain’s parliamentary revolution launched in the same decade. Seen from this historical perspective, the Nanjing massacre was a reprise of a now-forgotten massacre in which invading Manchu forces laid waste to China’s most resplendent commercial city, Yangzhou, and slaughtered its residents in the ‘Ten Day Yangzhou” massacre of 1645. And yet China’s historical museums are largely silent about the Manchu invasion and the Yangzhou massacre.

In Shenyang, situated in old Manchurian territory, guides welcome international visitors to the palace compound of Manchu chieftain, Nuerhaci, built to unify the tribal banners in advance of the invasion that overthrew the Ming Dynasty in 1644. There is no mention of a Manchu “invasion” of China. Instead, one finds a story of imperial reunification under Manchu rule bringing harmony to a divided China. Questioned by a visitor, in 2012, on whether the Manchus were foreign invaders, an official guide responded, “No, Manchus are Chinese, a national minority in China.” Not at the time. In a curious twist, the elision of Manchus as foreign invaders entails suppressing historical knowledge of the infamous Yangzhou massacre when the invading Manchus slaughtered a large part of the population of that city in an event remembered by nationalists in the late Qing as keenly as the Nanjing massacre is remembered by patriots today.

Other local museums display purported massacres by British and American residents in China. Visitors to the Baoding history museum south of Beijing in 2011 were treated to displays of an alleged American massacre during the city’s efforts to resist Western invaders over the Century of Humiliation. One hall of the museum in the former imperial governor-general’s offices is dedicated to commemorating the heroism of local Boxer units in putting an end to alleged foreign massacres of Chinese children. The exhibition aside, actual historical evidence points to the Boxers massacring unarmed Chinese Christians by the thousands, not Christians massacring Chinese during the Boxer Uprising of 1900. Here the trope of massacre is reversed. The Baoding exhibition offers graphic depictions of Western nuns killing Chinese infants and dumping dead Chinese children inside their orphanage, accompanied by texts accusing the sisters of infanticide and of spying for the United States. Boxer leader Zhou Laokun is hailed as a national hero for “angrily slaying” the prioress. The exhibition culminates in an honor-roll listing the names of local Boxers who slew local and foreign Christians in the Boxer massacres of 1900.

Given the heavy weight of evidence showing that foreign Manchu forces invaded China and massacred unarmed Chinese residents at many sites, including Yangzhou, and the lack of historical evidence demonstrating that nuns killed anyone at all in Baoding—alongside overwhelming evidence of Boxers massacring thousands of Christians across North China—, these two museums encapsulate the problem of credibility in public history on the Road to Rejuvenation. They are entirely consistent with the public history recounted in the National History Museum in Beijing.

Historical Research on the Nationalist Era

This style of systematic misinformation is less apparent in Nanjing where academic historians have made up for lost time in researching, recording, and commemorating the 1937 Nanjing massacre after decades of silence. Telling the truth about Nanjing involves collecting and publishing contemporary evidence of Japanese atrocities. It means taking evidence seriously. The evidence gathered supports a different vision of history from the one on display in Beijing. Since the advent of ‘reform and opening” in 1979, the history of the pre-communist Republic based in Nanjing has arguably undergone the greatest revision of any field of Chinese history since 1949. Within the history of the Republic, the history of the War of Resistance Against Japan has received the greatest attention, and growing attention to the history of the Anti-Japanese War has encouraged new insights on issues neglected for decades in mainland histories of the war, including the Nanjing massacre.

Recent publications such as the monumental 72-volume Collection of Historical Materials on the Nanjing Massacre (南京大屠杀史料集, 2005-) place beyond doubt the scale, horror, and significance of the Nanjing massacre. At the same time, the evidence presented in the volumes restores forgotten histories of Nanjing’s status as the capital of the Republic, memories of the Nationalist government’s domestic achievements and prosecution of the War of Resistance Against Japan, and the record of contributions made by foreigners to the city and the nation in its bitter war with Japan.

Researchers have come to acknowledge the importance of formal theaters of the anti-Japanese war where Nationalist forces played a dominant role long neglected in histories focusing on Communist guerrilla resistance. Nationalist guerrilla forces have also been rediscovered. Published research concedes that the Nationalist government, far from appeasing Japan ahead of the outbreak of war as often argued, made extensive logistical preparations for full-scale war with Japan well in advance of the formal declaration of war. Gradual recognition of the Nationalists’ prosecution of the war has also helped to restore the standing of previously reviled historical figures, including Chiang Kai-shek, whose determination to preserve national sovereignty, refusal to surrender to Japan, handling of the war, and management of relations with the United States appear on closer examination to show the hallmarks of an able administrator and true patriot. Chiang was not, as previously thought, a proxy for US imperialism. His disagreement with his American military advisor General George Stilwell, whom he sent packing back to Washington DC, is now read as a measure of Chiang’s resolve to uphold China’s sovereignty and dignity in the face of US provocations, not merely a personal tiff between two strongly-minded individuals.
Taken together, these new perspectives on the War Against Japan have had the effect of elevating the history of the Nationalist party and government as a field of historical inquiry deserving critical attention its own right. All this has been made possible by efforts to place the 1937 Nanjing massacre front and center in China’s national history. Respect for evidence makes the difference.

For three decades and more, the communists refused to recognize the contributions to the war effort made by the national government they overthrew. They suppressed knowledge of the Nanjing massacre on the same account. Once the truth was allowed to emerge, evidence marshaled around the history of the Nanjing massacre has come to warrant public recognition of the Nationalist government’s commitment to the defense of China’s sovereignty and upholding of national dignity during the war. The evidence is overwhelming.

Researchers have also rediscovered Nanjing as a modern national capital. From published research on the Nanjing massacre we learn that the city grew three-fold in population over the decade preceding that terrible event, from 360,000 in 1927 to over one million in 1936. When Japanese imperial forces laid waste to Nanjing, in addition to the horrific human suffering inflicted, they destroyed a city of planned roadways, planted boulevards, new commercial centers, public hospitals and sports facilities, public utilities, impressive executive buildings and court houses, modern office buildings, and numerous theatres and performance centers. They reduced the built heritage of the Nationalist government of China to rubble.

Recently published histories also present evidence of widespread Western sympathy and support for China at the time of the Japanese invasion expressed in consular reports, newspaper records, and the accounts of Western college professors, medical staff, businessmen, and missionaries who witnessed the events and their aftermath. The evidence shows that China stood up in 1945 with the defeat of Japan and the recovery of Chinese sovereignty across several different domains.

The World Anti-Fascist War and Today’s Confrontation

This evidence-based history of the Anti-Japanese War fits uneasily into the received history of the World Anti-Fascist War. The expression “World Anti-Fascist War” may confound Chinese overseas but in the People’s Republic it is the preferred term for World War II, and is linked with the term Anti-Japanese War in standard Chinese much as World War II is related to the Pacific War in common English. And yet, the term World Anti-Fascist War implies more than the broader geographical context of China’s war with Japan, elevating the war to a higher plane of theoretical abstraction and embedding it in long-term historical struggles between socialism and capitalism, Marxism-Leninism and liberal pluralism, and sovereign Peoples and imperialist nations. It invites readers and listeners in China and abroad to frame the situation on the seventieth anniversary of the war around the long-term imperialist designs of the United States and the prospect of imminent “fascist revival” in Japan.

The term was born in an anti-Western paradigm of an earlier era in which the World Anti-Fascist War, initially led by the Soviet Union, was sustained into the postwar period in the conflict between world socialism and US imperialism. The paradigm was clearly set out on the twentieth anniversary of the war in a People’s Daily report, The Historical Experience of the War against Fascism, published on the eve of the Cultural Revolution. In the period since the war, by this account, “US imperialism has taken the place of German, Italian and Japanese fascism and become the most aggressive imperialist power. US imperialism is the main force of aggression and war.” 6 Today, the term continues to bear geostrategic weight, placing priority on Soviet Russian leadership in the earlier war.

Although never out of circulation, the term ‘World Anti-Fascist War’ was not widely deployed in the People’s Republic of China before 1985. Since then it has featured prominently on official state occasions and yet rarely outside of them. It is basically an official state term with a frequency corresponding to national commemorative events each decade beginning in 1985 and extending to 1995, 2005 and 2015. (See Chart 2) It differs in this respect from research on the Nanjing massacre, which, while peaking in commemorative decades, features consistently year by year in academic publications on Chinese history, as shown in Chart 1

Chart 2world anti-fascist war/anti-japanese war publications 1980~2015

Data from China Academic Journals Full Text Database, accessed October 25, 2015 employing title searches for both terms World Anti-Fascist War and War of Resistance against Japan in academic articles and theses published between 1980 and 2015 (to October 2015).

The ten-year anniversaries of the war attract top-level state attention in which the Party focuses public interest on its partisan role in the conflict and on the anti-fascist dimensions of the war. On the sixtieth anniversary in September 2005, for example, Li Changchun, the highest-ranking official supervising education and propaganda policy in China, issued a call for accelerated research and publication on the Anti-Japanese War. Domestically, the primary focus of the effort was to be “the function and status of the Communist Party of China in the war.” Internationally, the new program was “to pay particular attention to the history of mutual support by world anti-Fascist forces so as to promote international cooperation and exchanges.”7 Earlier in that same year, China’s UN ambassador Wang Guangya identified the world anti-fascist forces with the former Soviet Union in a formal address to a special session of the UN General Assembly. Wang also noted that “after 60 years, the ghost of Nazism and militarism still lingers on,” evoking among loyal Party members and serving military officers the language of an earlier paradigm of an on-going subliminal war with the United States and its allies. 8

These injunctions have been followed by a revival of the anti-fascist framework in historical museums, military training, school education, and popular media on the Anti-Japanese War since that time. In 2005, earlier exhibits in Beijing’s Memorial Hall of the Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japan, dating from its construction in the 1980s and 1990s, were reframed to highlight the part of the war in the larger global anti-fascist struggle.9 The continuing relevance of the old pre-reform paradigm can be found in selected Chinese commentary on the seventieth anniversary in 2015, threatening revenge upon those who do not share China’s perspective on that war.

Wider foreign recognition of China’s contributions to victory in the war is certainly overdue, as is some acknowledgment of China’s contributions to allied victory in the Great War of 1914-1918.10 In China, this claim for recognition is accompanied by palpable threats. The failure of Western leaders to share China’s perspective and its commemorations marking the 70th Anniversary of the World Anti-Fascist War, according to one authoritative Chinese observer, “can only result in new disasters.”11


There can be little doubt that the history of China’s Anti-Japanese War and the place of that war in world history merit greater attention than they receive outside of China. The Japanese invasion brought massive harm and humiliation upon the people of China and the Nationalists’ role in that war assisted allied efforts in the Pacific. Yet, intensifying state efforts to cloak the Anti-Japanese War in an older ideological framework of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought do little to promote international learning and understanding. For three decades from 1949, that ideological framework cast a cloak of silence over the Nanjing massacre. China’s historians of the Nanjing Massacre are now making up for that earlier silence by providing verifiable and accessible sources for historical teaching and learning around the world. The evidence they are marshalling does not bear out the strategic worldview that was responsible for masking the massacre from 1949 to 1979.

Marxist socialism, Leninist anti-imperialism, and Maoist sinocentrism no longer govern academic histories of the war as they did in China forty years ago. Nevertheless, they continue to guide Communist Party efforts to reconstruct national identity around resentment against the liberal-democratic West through the memory work of museums, schools, popular media and the rest of the state propaganda apparatus. Actual events, which should never be forgotten, are embedded in an ideological framework best forgotten. Despite all evidence to the contrary, this framework is unlikely to be set aside while the state continues to place historical resentment against the West at the heart of China’s nation-building project.

By casting the term “World Anti-Fascist War” over the events of seventy years ago, China’s communists reduce a war that the Nationalist government of China waged and won, chiefly in alliance with the United States, to a subordinate theater of a conflict, led by Stalin and Mao, with liberal capitalism under US leadership. They fan popular resentment against Japan while encouraging the belief that the United States stands in the way of just retribution against Japan—a long-overdue sovereign retribution, unencumbered by US intervention, that will not be denied the People of China in decades to come. In this way, the communists signal their determination to go on fighting a war the rest of the world thought well and truly over.


1.Wang Qishan is reported to have said on September 9, 2015:中国共产党的合法性源自于历史,是人心向背决定的,是人民的选择. 王岐山谈中共“合法性,” China Elections and Governance, accessed October 4, 2015,

2.Emphasis added. The longer expression as recorded by Ming editor Yu Jideng (余继登) reads: ‘顾自古国家未有不以勤而兴以怠而衰者,天命去留,人心向背,皆决于是.’

3.Mark Eykholt, “Aggression, Victimization, and Chinese Historiography of the Nanjing Massacre,” in Joshua Fogel, ed., The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000), 11-69; Takashi Yoshida, The Making of the “Rape of Nanking:” History and Memory in Japan, China, and the United States (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).

4.William C Kirby, “China Stands Up: The Wartime Foundations of China’s Emergence as a Great Power” in Lu Fangshang, ed., War in History and Memory (Taipei: Guoshiguan, 2015), 203-221.

5.The preface states that the exhibition “fully demonstrates how history and the People chose Marxism, chose the Chinese Communist Party, chose the Socialist Road” (充分展示历史和人民怎样选择了马克思主义,选择了中国共产党, 选择了社会主义道路), Preface to “The Road of Rejuvenation” exhibition, author visit November 25, 2011.

6.Editorial Department of Renmin Ribao, The Historical Experience of the War against Fascism (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1965), 1-9.

7.“Senior CPC official calls for enhancing anti-Japanese war research,” People’s Daily Online, September 5, 2005,, accessed October 23, 2015.

8.Statement by Ambassador Wang Guangya on the Commemoration of the Sixtieth Anniversary of the end of the Second World War, Special Solemn Meeting of the General Assembly on May 9, 2005,, accessed October 23, 2015.

9.Kirk A. Denton, “Horror and Atrocity: Memory of Japanese Imperialism in Chinese Museums,” in Ching Kwan Lee and Guobin Yang, eds., Re-envisioning the Chinese Revolution: The Politics and Poetics of Collective Memories in Reform China (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007), 245-286, esp. 284, n.38.

10.Xu Guoqi, Strangers on the Western Front (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011).

11.Qin Xiaoyin, “Why Ignoring China’s Commemoration of War Against Japan Is a Foolish Mistake.” The Huffington Post, September 1, 2015,, accessed October 23, 2015.