China 70th anniversary WWII parade Niu Chenghao/ZumaPress

China’s History Parade

The huge parade in the center of Beijing on September 3 to commemorate the end of World War II showed that the authorities are preparing the ground to install a new narrative about the war as a central part of Chinese national identity. Is a more inclusive tribute to China’s past a signal of incipient pluralism in China’s present?

BEIJING – The grand parade in the center of Beijing on September 3 to commemorate the end of World War II in China highlighted two contradictory narratives, both immensely important for understanding the country’s future path.

The first story is about China’s newfound strength. In the past two decades of rapid economic growth, China’s military budget has increased sharply – last year by more than 12%. By publicly displaying its latest military hardware, China’s leadership has made it clear that it will never again allow the country to suffer as it did when Japan invaded in 1937 during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Of course, this message may not go down well among China’s neighbors. After all, many of them are already anxious about China’s beefed-up military capacity, which they view from the perspective of its far-reaching territorial and maritime claims in Asia.

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