Nanjing Commemoration Controversies

University students in China are buzzing over this simple banner at a university in Wuhan, Hubei province:

"Commemorate the 72nd Anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre"

In analyzing the banner, even People’s Daily online is now questioning China’s official culture of reflexive commemoration of Nanking.  After all, commemorations in December, 2007, in Wuhan got fairly heated, and the city is a unique node of remembrance of the War of Resistance, having served for a spell as a wartime capital-in-exile.   The Japanese ambassador to China arrived to speak at Wuhan University a couple of years back, and didn’t seem afraid to engage with historical tensions, to his credit.

And as much as the regime in Beijing might be trying to tamp down such stories at a time when the relationship with Japan is warming, we can’t forget occasional stories that make it through to confound the master narrative of reconciliation, like this piece in Huanqiu Shibao which describes recent American efforts to deny Japan a future Olympic bid absent a fuller apology for the Rape of Nanking (netizen comments available here).

Perhaps Chinese are now more concerned with questions like this one on a Huanqiu BBS which has racked up more than 2000 comments recently: “When will China overtake Japan’s economy?  Three years?  Five years?  How many years?”  Perhaps visions of China’s future will ultimately obliterate the stain of the national humiliation which the CCP took such pains to highlight, and is now trying in its awkward way to ignore.

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