China factor rides high at Moscow celebrations

Updated: 2015-05-11 07:43

By Xing Zhigang in Moscow (China Daily)

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A 102-member guard of honor from China joined the Victory Day parade in Red Square for the first time on Saturday, as 18 Russian veterans who fought against the Japanese during the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1937-45) were presented with medals.

The move highlighted the friendship between China and Russia that was forged with lives and blood during the war, and Russian President Vladimir Putin was officially invited to attend a parade in China on September 3 to celebrate the victory over the Japanese.

President Xi Jinping took advantage of the Chinese presence at the Moscow celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War - the Russian term for World War II - to lay the foundations for China's own celebration.

The near-complete absence of Western leaders at the ceremony, underlining the tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis, also gave prominence to the presence of Xi, who along with Putin was the only major head of State to attend the parade in Red Square.

In his speech, Putin made special mention of China's role in WWII, saying that like the Soviet Union "it lost many, many millions of people."

He told the assembled dignitaries, including nearly 30 leaders from Asian, Latin American and African countries as well as heads of international organizations, that "China was also the main front against militarism in Asia."

As two major battlegrounds, China and Russia made great national sacrifices. China suffered more than 35 million casualties, while Russia had 27 million.

Putin also noted that China's contribution to the Allied victory has both a historical and current resonance, because China and Russia fought shoulder to shoulder during the war and are now fighting attempts to deny and distort history.

During their meeting, Xi and Putin echoed each other's comments. Xi said China and Russia would stand resolutely with all peace-loving nations and peoples against any attempts to deny, distort or tamper with the history of the war. Putin stressed that both countries will oppose any attempt to deny and distort history, and will fight any moves to exonerate or "beautify" fascists and militarists.

In a signed article published in the Russian Gazette, Xi quoted the Russian historian Vasily Klyuchevsky as saying "If we lost the memory of our past, our minds and souls would be lost in the darkness," to indicate the determination of the peoples of China and Russia to fight attempts to rewrite wartime history.

The warning came against the backdrop of a Japanese government, led by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, that has refused to face up to the country's wartime history, including systematic war crimes, and attempts to evade responsibility for Japan's actions during the conflict.

Both leaders pledged that the international order with the UN as its core, as the victorious outcome of WWII, should be cherished and safeguarded.

Xi said that the law of the jungle and hegemonic policies would not benefit coexistence, peace and development for all mankind.

To forget the past means betraying it, and could lead to past mistakes being repeated. In that sense, the celebration to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII is a timely reminder that we must remember history and cherish peace.

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