The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) English-language mouthpiece, the China Daily, announced in an Aug. 30 article that China would be celebrating the “65th anniversary of China’s victory in the anti-Japanese war and the world’s anti-fascist war.”
The article (“China makes great contributions to world’s anti-fascist struggle”) mentions nothing of US or Allied participation in the “anti-fascist war” — also known as World War II — and mentions nothing about US contributions to China’s own war effort. It says nothing about the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) struggle in leading the Chinese war effort. It portrays China’s role in the war as key to Allied victory, even though the amount of actual fighting the communists and the KMT did against the Japanese — and not each other — has been subjected to a great deal of scrutiny.
Indeed, reading the article would lead the uninformed to believe that China itself won the war, asserting that Chinese forces caused over 70 percent of Japanese casualties, a clear downplay of US involvement and distortion of the facts. China’s war with Japan was far longer than the US war in the Pacific, and the US also provided the Chinese with hundreds of millions of dollars of financial and military aid.
A later article by Xinhua news agency quotes former US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt and former British prime minister Winston Churchill as praising the Chinese war effort (they were of course praising the KMT, not the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]) as indispensible, although neither article recognizes any contribution from foreign powers or debates whether the CCP and KMT, either individually or collectively, could have beaten the Japanese without this help.
In fact, most experts agree that former Chinese leader Mao Zedong (毛澤東) and the CCP were even more willing than Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) and the KMT to bide their time and hold back their best military units from fighting the Japanese in order to use those forces in the future Chinese Civil War. Mao himself is known to have thanked the Japanese for weakening Chiang and the KMT during the war.
While China celebrates its victory over fascism, perhaps it would be helpful to discuss exactly what sort of benefits China has gained from victory over the “fascists.” This requires us to take a look at what “fascism” actually is.
Key characteristics of fascism include strong, often belligerent, nationalism; corporate organization of state, economy and society; and either state-sponsored socialism or heavy state investment in the economy.
A look at these key characteristics of fascism and comparing them to China’s current political, economic and social systems, one would have to ask which conquered which: Did China conquer fascism, or did fascism conquer China?
China has certainly not been lacking in nationalist bellicosity since 1945. And as China’s military capabilities and economic clout have grown, especially since the 2008 financial crisis, experts and politicians alike have expressed concern over China’s increasingly vocal discontent with the international system in general and US policies in particular. China’s continuing claims to Taiwan, as well as its growing adventurism in the South China Sea and the waters surrounding the Korean Peninsula, further demonstrate China’s growing assertiveness.