Marking 72 years since the end of World War II in the Asia
Victory over Japan Day, V-J Day, is celebrated on September 3 in China. This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the surrender of Japan to the Allies. The formal surrender took palace on September 2 aboard the USS Missouri and September 3 marked the start of the Chinese holiday celebrating the end to the brutal eight year war in China.
Located inside Wanping Fortress a 17th century walled-city in Beijing erected to prevent Beijing against Li Zicheng, a Chinese rebel, and his peasant uprising, the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (中国人民抗日战争纪念馆) is a memorial of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) and aims to demonstrate the undisputed role of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in uniting China against the Japanese and in the 'World Anti-Fascist War'. The museum is in a walking distance from Marco Polo Bridge, the location of the July 7th Incident that marked the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War and the extension of Japanese aggression to the territory of the Republic of China from Manchuria.
The exhibit follows a chronological order with some thematic exhibits towards the end; starting with the 1931 Japanese invasion of Manchuria and the establishment of the puppet state of Manchukuo, ending with the victory over Imperial Japan and China’s admittance to the United Nations. Thematic exhibits are destined to represent Japanese war crimes committed against the Chinese people, China’s involvement in the South Asia theatre of World War 2, and China’s role in supporting the independence movement of the Korean Peninsula.
The last hall aims to represent the development of future-oriented Sino-Japanese friendship that is threatened by Japanese rightist movements. But not only: when I was teaching in a rural boarding school in Shanxi my students could claim that they hated Japan well before they could answer the simple question of ‘How old are you?’. No wonder that my 7th graders developed such feelings at an early age: whenever I turn on Chinese television I always find at least two or three channels screening historical dramas about the period of Japanese occupation and the heroic resistance of the Chinese people – a genre I admittedly a huge admirer of. The last wall is designated for five generations of Chinese leadership and their quotes on the Chinese people’s love and endeavor towards peace and peaceful coexistence of nations.
The artifacts, photos, maps and dioramas on display make the museum enjoyable for all ages of visitors to this world-class museum, somewhat similar to that of the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum in Pyongyang. There is even a 'small brother' of the 360 degree diorama of the Battle of Daejon in the dome of the museum in the DPRK capital. The July 7th Incident (Battle of Marco Polo Bridge) is depicted on a semi-landscape picture and diorama where audio-visual effects of war help the visitor to have a real sense of a battle.
The focus of the exhibition however is on the CCP’s efforts to form the Anti-Japanese National United Front and to overcome the partisan decade of the 1930s as opposed to the Kuomintang’s (KMT) 'non-resistance' policy. The exhibit puts China’s role in ‘fighting the fascists’ in a wider context: it also solemnizes the Chinese and Mao Anying’s, Chairman Mao Zedong’s eldest son, participation in the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union and who was killed by an airstrike in Korea in 1950 during the Korean War. (Mao Anying is buried in a Chinese War cemetery in the Hoechang, DPRK, a mountainous area east of Pyongyang.)
The exhibition also commemorates the independence movement of the Korean Peninsula and the mutual help of the two nations in fighting the Japanese. Pictures of the Korean Liberation Army and the Korean Army of Volunteers are on display, as well as of Korean members of the Northeast Anti-Japanese Army in which President Kim Il-sung also fought.
There is a hall designated to commemorate the struggle of the 'Taiwanese Compatriots' who were colonized by Imperial Japan for 50 years. There are photos of anti-Japanese personage and members of the Taiwanese Communist Party who played a major role in the resistance against Japanese colonial rule. The exhibition ends with a painting depicting the Japanese surrender in Taiwan.
The museum definitely worth a visit to have a better understanding on the Chinese perspective of the first half of the 20th century in general and on the Sino-Japanese War in particular. Even those who are less interested in narratives will find the exhibition interesting and have an enjoyable half day out.To get to the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, take Line 14 to Dawayao and walk two kilometers to the museum or take a bus. The entry is fee 0 RMB. It is free.The entrance fee for the nearby park around historic Marco Polo Bridge is 20 RMB.
'Sundays in Peking' introduces sights and activities in Beijing with even the slightest connection to Korea. Sometimes we just write about other stuff happening around Beijing.