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Facing First Sino-Japanese War after 120 Years


 A Commentary

Facing First Sino-Japanese War after 120 Years 
Source: China Times
July 28, 2014
Cheng Hai-lin
Director of Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies
Beijing plans to commemorate the 120th anniversary of the First Sino-Japanese War (a.k.a. the War of Jiawu, 甲午戰爭) on July 25th in cities throughout the Mainland.  Xi Jinping (習近平), General-Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), brought up the War of Jiawu on two occasions this year and clearly stated that China’s defeat in the War of Jiawu left a scar in the heart of all Chinese.
China was defeated by Japan in the First Sino-Japanese War 120 years ago, and it was a humiliation to all Chinese.  Japan inflicted severe damage on China.
In modern history, China and Japan before the Meiji Restoration (明治維新) were bullied by Western powers.  Japan became a strong country after the Meiji Restoration.  However, it was lamentable that Japan’s rise had not brought China good fortune, but instead a terrible catastrophe.  The Japanese treated China with the same brutality that the Western powers had inflicted on China.  In China’s modern history, Japan inflicted the most severe damage on China without feeling any shamefulness and sense of guilt.  Saigō Takamori (西鄉隆盛), one of the most influential samurais in Japanese history, living during the late Edo Period and early Meiji Era, proposed Seikanron (征韓論) in 1873 and the Tanaka Memorial in 1928 revealed Japan’s plan to conquer China, leading everyone in Japan to believe that wars could make the country rich and bring great benefits to Japan.
Japan invaded China 10 times from the Meiji Restoration to the end of the WWII.  Japan’s wars against China caused China to become impoverished and backward.  
A small number of Japanese right-wing extremists continue to dream of dominating East Asia.  In the face of the rise of China, those extremists have become paranoid.  China launched a missile to destroy an abandoned weather satellite several years ago, causing a panic among Western powers.  Japan and the US have exaggerated China’s so-called “military threat.”  Then US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice called China’s launch of a missile to destroy a satellite “a shocking test.”  Shōichi Nakagawa (中川昭一), a Japanese conservative politician in the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), described China’s launch of a missile to destroy a satellite as “an experiment targeting Japan.”  When China dispatched its aircraft carrier Liaoning to conduct regular military exercises in the South China Sea, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe and other right-wing politicians exaggerated China’s so-called “military threat” again.  Those right-wing politicians were attempting to instigate the Japanese government and Japanese citizens to face the rise of China with swords unsheathed and bows drawn. 
To those right-wing extremists, China’s rise is a threat to Japan.  China’s superiority was tantamount to Japan’s humiliation and a strong China was tantamount to a poor Japan.  Those right-wing extremists knew that the rise of Japan in modern history was based on China’s sacrifices.
On the basis of such a psychological foundation, when relative national strengths of China and Japan changed, a large-scale competition between the two nations was inevitable.  China’s leadership must prepare themselves, otherwise they would not be able to cope with a sudden change in the future. 
【Editor’s note: In modern history, the Chinese nation has never engaged in a war of aggression against Japan.】

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