BEIJING (Reuters) - Western countries have a lack of appreciation about China’s sacrifices and contributions during World War Two, a senior official said on Tuesday, as the government outlined plans for a military parade through central Beijing to mark the war’s end.
Sino-Japan relations have long been affected by what China sees as Japan’s failure to atone for its occupation of parts of the country before and during the war, and Beijing rarely misses an opportunity to remind its people and the world.
China has been coy about which countries it plans to invite to the Sept. 3 parade to commemorate 70 years since the war’s end in Asia, but says it will likely invite representatives from the Western Allies who fought with China.
President Xi Jinping could be left standing on the stage with few top Western officials, however, diplomats have told Reuters, due to concern by Western governments over a range of issues, including the expected presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Wang Shiming, deputy propaganda chief of the ruling Communist Party’s Central Committee, declined to say which Western leaders might attend, but then criticized the West for trivializing China’s role in the war.
“Certain people in the West have always lacked an objective and just recognition of China’s position and role in the world anti-fascist war,” Wang told reporters in response to a question from a state media reporter about why Western public opinion downplayed China’s role.
“The facts of history are that in the world’s war against fascism, the Chinese people’s war against Japan was an important component and played an important role in the eastern theater,” Wang said, before listing facts about how many Chinese people died and other effects of the war in China.
The Sept. 3 parade through Tiananmen Square will feature a large number of new weapons, and representatives of foreign armies will also be invited, said Qu Rui, deputy head of the Office of the Military Parade Leading Group. He declined to say which countries would send troops.
Xi attended a parade in Moscow in May to mark 70 years since the end of the war in Europe. Western leaders boycotted the Moscow parade over Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis.
The thought of Chinese troops marching through Tiananmen, scene of 1989’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators, could also put off Western officials from attending.
Neither Wang nor Qu would answer a question about whether they were worried the site of the parade could present a negative image to the world.
Editing by Paul Tait