by Hon. Ou Boqian
On Sep 3, 2014 the Chinese government launched a grand commemoration of the 69th anniversary of the victory of World Anti-Fascist War (World War II). That day is also the 69th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese Anti-Japanese Invasion War.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and other members of the state leaders attended the ceremony to commemorate the WWII heroes.
69 years ago, on September 1st, 1939, Adolf Hitler, who took power in Germany in 1933, launched a blitzkrieg attack and invaded Poland. That was the start of the Second World War in Europe and North Africa Battlefield.
Two years before in 1937, Japan officially invaded China although it had occupied North East China since 1931. This invasion was the prelude to World War II in Asia Pacific Battlefield.
The Second World War was the most widespread war in the world history, getting more than 2 billion world population from 61 countries and regions involved including all major powers.
Two military blocs were formed: the Allies and the Axis. The Allies consisted of more than 50 countries and jointly led by Great Briton, France, former Soviet Union and later, United States and China.
The Axis had only three members, namely Germany, Italy and Japan with several other followers. The war led to a 70 million plus casualties and 5000 billion US dollar’s lost to the world economy. It was a huge man-made disaster of the entire human society.
Though far weaker and poorer than the major Allies powers, China played a very important role in the war against the Axis in Asia Pacific, in particular, Japan.
China was the main battlefield in anti-Japanese fascist war and held down 800,000 to 1,000,000 Japanese troops. This tremendously eliminated Japan’s pressure on the Allied forces and forced Japan to abandon its plan of invading Australia and Ceylon so as to join forces with Germany in India Ocean.
40,000 Chinese soldiers were sent to Burma to fight alongside American and British troops to secure the Stilwell Road linking Lashio to Assam in India, which was crucial to the victory of the Allies in WWII.
China’s lost and sacrifices were huge. At least 14 million Chinese were killed in the war, 21 million were injured and some 80 million became refugees.
As the result of a most arduous struggle by the Allies for 6 years, the Axis lost the war and surrendered unconditionally. On the 8th of May 1945, Germany declared and signed a treat of unconditionally surrender.
Four months later, on September 2nd 1945, on a formal surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay, Japan, aboard the battleship USS Missouri, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and General Yoshijiro Umezu signed on another treaty of unconditional surrender, thus symbolising the complete end the Second World War.
After two and half years trial in Tokyo by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, 28 notorious Japanese military and political leaders were charged with Class A war crimes, and more than 5,700 Japanese nationals were charged with Class B and C war crimes in 1948.
To safeguard the hard-earned world peace and stability, one must remember and learn from history.
Unfortunately it does not happen on Japan. The war criminals, including 14 Class A war criminals, were secretly moved into and enshrined in the Yasukuni Shrine by the Japanese government since 1978 and paid homage by some Japanese leaders including the former Prime Minister Koizumi Junichirou and the incumbent Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
Japanese leaders ‘s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine and homage paid to the war criminals seriously hurt the feelings of the peoples of its neighbours and has become a very serious political problem on Japan’s relations with the neighboring Asian countries.
The victory of the Anti-Fascist War is the victory of the whole world. After WWII, China became one of the founding members of the United Nations and one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, which laid the foundation for China’s status in post-war international community and world order.
Only when we realise what to learn from history, can we have a better future. In order to prevent the historical mistake repeating itself and to safeguard the precious world peace, 60 years ago in 1954, the late Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai, jointly with Indian and Myanmar leaders, initiated the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.
The principles are: mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence.
The five principles were advocated in the statement issued in April 1955 at the historic Asian-African Conference in Bandung, Indonesia.
It is a historic contribution made by China to build a new world order after World War II. It has become basic norms governing international relations as well as basic principles of international law.
The Five Principles can apply to relations among all countries regardless of their social system, stage of development or size. In six decades it has effectively safeguarded the rights and interests of the developing world.
It has also played a positive role in building a more equitable and rational international political and economic order, which provides a new approach for peacefully resolving historical issues and international disputes.
As the only developing country of Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, China will make unremitting efforts for the peace, stability and development of the world and plays an active role in building a harmonious world of durable peace and common prosperity.
China will firmly pursue the policy of friendship and cooperation with all other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Co-existence and to share a common dream of development and prosperity with friends worldwide.
(Hon. Ou Boqian, is the resident Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Grenada)