Today, 23rd of April is the memorial day for the Liberation of Nanjing.
Living in China was the first time to hear about Nanjing Liberation Day. I assumed, naively, it was commemorating the relief and exhausted elation that must have followed the Japanese withdrawal from the city. But it wasn't.
In the decades after the war the struggle was internal: the enemy was within. Nanjing's Liberation Day commemorated the day that the Communists defeated the Nationalists and established control over the city. The train to Nanjing would play The Song of the Yangtze River (see the clip below) as it crossed the river on the way into Nanjing. Another teacher assured me the song was as a reminder of the Communist victory as they fought their way from the north into the city, though lyrics checking leaves me a bit skeptical about the veracity of this.
But the point is China's situation has shifted and so has the common enemy. Rather than class struggle defeating those with suspect 'rightist' pasts, the enemy is outside, most notably Japan. In recent years Japan deserves a lot of flack for its position (particularly after the PM's very slippery speech in Bandung that avoided any sense of responsibility for the war) but it'd be disingenuous not to notice the shift that has been occurring in China.
On another matter Chinese today, I saw a startling admission from a Shanghai based scholar, Fudan University Professor Ge Jianxiong, 62 that Tibet was not always part of China.
HONG KONG: A leading Chinese historian and a veteran of the committee that advises on official Chinese history textbooks has broken step with the official Chinese line on historical sovereignty over Tibet and said that to claim that the ancient Buddhist kingdom “has always been a part of China” would be a “defiance of history”.
The Song of the Yellow River (almost, but not quite as militaristic as the one on the train to Nanjing in 1999-2000).