September 3 is a date of vital importance to Chinese people. On this day, 69 years ago, Chinese forces celebrated a hard-fought victory in the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) following many years of suffering and territorial invasions.
Just this February, the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, designated September 3 the Victory Day of this war, which was part of World War II (WWII). As activities are held across the country to mark this year's Victory Day, they are not intended to perpetuate animosity, but to promote peace. The celebrations are a way to share the lessons of history and discourage warfare that might further inflict miseries on the Chinese nation.
WWII was the most massive, wide-scale war in human history. Over 2 billion people in 61 countries and territories across Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania were involved and more than 70 million were killed or injured. The cloud of war did not end until Germany and Japan signed documents of unconditional surrender on May 8 and September 2, 1945, respectively.
At present, however, Japanese right-wing politicians are seeking to deny the country's dark past and amend its post-WWII pacifist constitution, moves that have shocked observers the world over. Under such circumstances, China's commemoration of the victory of the war serves to remind right-wing Japanese politicians and the international forces backing them that China has not relaxed its guard against Japanese militarism.
During WWII, Chinese soldiers and civilians bravely resisted Japanese invaders, containing Japanese forces in China and thus reducing Japan's ability to make further military advances. China as a nation paid the highest cost in the war and destroyed the largest number of Japanese troops. During the eight-year period from 1937-45, China fought against two thirds of all Japanese land forces and killed 1.5 million Japanese soldiers, accounting for 70 percent of all Japanese casualties.
Former U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin all gave high praise to Chinese people, with a nod to their enormous contributions to victory in the world's anti-Fascist war.
China commemorates the September 3 victory also to encourage today's generations to strive for greater national strength. During the eight-year war, China suffered devastating losses. According to incomplete statistics, Chinese soldiers and civilians suffered casualties of at least 35 million. The Nanjing Massacre following the Japanese conquest of the city on December 13, 1937 alone killed over 300,000.
Moreover, celebrating this somber yet victorious anniversary shows China's positive attitude toward keeping history alive. At one time, only the September 18 Incident of 1931, which was staged by the Japanese Army and led to the invasion of northeast China and later to a series of atrocities in China, and the July 7 Incident of 1937, which marked the beginning of China's all-out war against Japanese aggression, were widely remembered. For those of us living in a peaceful era, every September 3, all should reflect on the futility and miseries of war and cherish hard-won peace.