The Falsification of History in China

In two past posts, The Roots of Anti-Japanese Feelings in China and Japanese History Textbooks (2005 edition), the subject was about how Japanese history textbooks portray the Sino-Japanese relationship over time.  The Japanese are allegedly attempting to falsify their own history!  Generally, when the subject of the falsification of history comes up, one must inevitably name the Chinese Communist government amongst the world leaders.  This post will contain an honest look by an eminent Chinese writer on the subject.

Still, I wish to state that I see this not as an exculpating factor for whatever is going on with the Japanese history textbooks.  I don't accept an argument such as, "Since the Chinese are much worse at falsifying history, the Japanese are entitled to do it too."  That is really setting the bar very low.  Next, you will also accept, "Since Genghis Khan's Mongols (who are one of the five major ethnic groups of China) killed one million people at Baghdad, the Japanese are entitled to do whatever they did during the Nanjing 'incident'."  And this is a long and slippery slope to slide down.  In the end, this cannot resolve the dilemma with respect to Chinese citizens as stated in the previous post:

Should the Chinese react vociferously about the downgrade of the Nanjing massacre to the Nanjing incident, and the total disappearing of Unit 731 and "comfort women"?  Or should they just "get over it" and have the Japanese tell them to be thankful for the war that was waged to "liberate the Asian countries from the western imperialists"?

Or to put it in another way,

You are trying to persuade the Chinese to get over it, and they seem to be trying to listen.  But there is someone in the background shouting that this was a "war of liberation."  Should you try to ignore him amidst the cacophony?  Or should you tell him to shut the f**k up?

Anyway, I'm not going to take up any more of your precious time.  In the following, I have translated a section of a new article by Liu Xiabo (刘晓波), the president of the Chinese independent PEN.  The title of the article is The Chinese Communists and the Japanese Rightists: Neither Will Apologize, originally posted at  Liu noted that this essay was written in Beijing.  Even as he wrote this essay, there were probably police guards posted outside his residence, and this article will not win any friends for him in the government.  This is a fairly long article, and I have skipped much of the psycho-analysis of the national characters of Japan and China.  This excerpt is a glimpse of the tip of the iceberg of major problems inside China's own official history, and it is not as if people don't know about this for the longest time already.

Once upon a time, when the new resident of Zhongnanhai, Mao Zedong, went to meet Josef Stalin for the first time, he was complaining.  But Stalin assuaged him with a single sentence.  The tyrant of Soviet Russia comforted the Chinese Communist tyrant thus: "The victor will not be criticized."

When it comes to viewpoints about warfare and nationalism, the Chinese  people are not better than the Japanese.  "The winner becomes the emperor while the loser is just a bandit" is an age-old concept of warfare in China.  The arrogance of the Han tribe about owning everything under heaven continues to live on today as nationalism.  More particularly, the way in which the Chinese Communists have fabricated history and used lies to rule since seizing power is much worse than how the Japanese rightists are revising their history of invasion; the way in which the Chinese Communists have beautified their totalitarian rule is much worse than how the Japanese rightists have beautified their militarism.  The way by which the Chinese Communists have ruled with lies has created a basis by which Japan can revise its history in order to fool the new generation of Japanese.

Since assuming power in 1949, the Chinese Communists have continued to distort the history of the Sino-Japanese war.  The Japanese were defeated by the Americans and not by the Chinese.  About the united resistance war by the KMT and the Communists, the Chinese Communists have been spreading huge lies.  At that time, the Japanese knew that their principal enemy was Chiang Kai-shek and not Mao Zedong, that the principal enemy force is the KMT army and not the Communist army.  When the Japanese was forced to surrender under the attack of the allies, they surrendered to the KMT government and not the Chinese Communists.  If the pressure from the Japanese did not force Chiang Kai-shek to focus totally on them, the Chinese Communists could not have seized power in China.  But, after the Chinese Communists seized power, the Eight Years of Resistance became a history with the Chinese Communists as the principal actors, it was an anti-invasion war led by the Chinese Communists and the victory in the war was due to the brilliant leadership of the Chinese Communists.

Actually, after the Marco Polo Bridge incident in 1937, the KMT held an emergency meeting at Lushan.  On July 17, Chiang Kai-shek delivered his "scorch earth resistance war" speech while Wang Jinwei delivered his "ashes of time resistance war" speech, thus signaling that China has entered a full-fledged resistance war effort.  After the KMT's Lushan meeting, the Chinese Communists held its meeting of an expanded Politburo on August 22, known as the Luo Chuan Congress.  At this meeting about how to deal with the full resistance effort against the Japanese, the agenda were driven by Zhang Wentian and Mao Zedong and the leaders of the Chinese Communists decided on a "non-resistance against Japan" policy.

Zhang Wentian was the General Secretary at the time and he delivered the key address.  He dealt with how Chiang Kai-shek was hostile to the Chinese Communists, how he betrayed them and attacked the Red Army.  He also proposed the strategy on how the Chinese Communists will fight the Japanese: during the First World War, Lenin signed an agreement with German and achieved the double effect of causing both the invader and invaded to suffer horrible losses.  At the moment, the Chinese Communists were facing the Japanese invaders as well as the hostile Nanjing government and this is similar to what Soviet Russia was facing back then.  Therefore, the Chinese Communists should imitate Lenin; they should sit back and watch Chiang Kai Shek fight the Japanese militarists, and the final victory will belong to the people.

Mao Zedong spoke in support of Zhang Wentian.  He emphasized that they must be "remain calm and not go to the frontline and act as anti-Japanese heroes."  Mao proposed a concrete strategy -- to follow guerrilla tactics by avoiding direct confrontation with the Japanese and going behind their lines to fight guerrilla warfare.  Such tactics are beneficial for increasing the strength of the Eighth Route Army and establishing bases inside enemy territory.  If the Nanjing government orders the Eighth Route Army to proceed to the frontline, it is impossible to totally ignore them but it is necessary to insist on independent self-determination.  Between the Nanjing government and the Chinese Communist central body, the Eighth Route Army must totally obey the directives from the Communist Party Military Committee.  All orders from the Nanjing government must be reported to Yenan for instructions.  All orders that are good for the Eighth Route Army will be obeyed, while the unfavorable orders will be stalled using any excuses.

On the battlefield against the Japanese, the KMT army fought against the Japanese intruders.  The KMT and Japanese armies fought more than 20 major battles, plus more than 50,000 smaller battles.  The KMT suffered more than 5 million casualties, while inflicting about 2 million casualties on the Japanese.  The KMT army paid a heavy price, and it earned China the right to be one of the four great powers with permanent seats in the United Nations Security Council.  After the victory, millions went into the streets to welcome back Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.

Yet, all this vanished in the history made up by the Chinese Communists.  We are left with the Chinese Communist army's triumphs at the Battle of Pingyingguan, the Battle of 100 Divisions and the guerrilla warfare.  It was as if the modernized and well-trained Japanese army was chased away by a guerrilla war conducted by digging tunnels, laying landmines, destroying railroads, cutting electricity cables, setting up ambushes, ...  The commander of the Battle of Pingyingguan, Lin Piao, was harangued by Mao Zedong for "not understanding politics"; Zhou Enlai who advised and planned the battle for Lin was forced to give self-criticisms when he returned to Yenan.  The commander at the Battle of 100 Divisions, Peng Dehuai, was criticized when he got back to Yenan; in Peng's own words, "I was cursed for forty days" in Yenan. (在延安被骂了四十天的娘)

This caused me to recall the education about the war of resistance that people of our generation received.  Our understanding of the war of resistance can be pathetically reduced to having seen the low-quality propaganda movies such as <<The Guerrillas of the Plain>>, <<The Guerrillas of the Railroad>>, <<The Soldier Zhang Ga>>, <<Battle of Landmines>>, <<Battle of the Tunnels>> and so on.  All the KMT military persons who appear in these movies were negative characters, being Chinese traitors, deserters or puppet soldiers.

In reality, the Chinese Communists' view of warfare is the same as that of the Japanese rightists.  It is based upon the pragmatic principle that "the winner becomes the emperor while the loser is just a bandit" for looking at warfare and history.  The way that the Chinese Communists falsify history gave an excuse for the Japanese to revise its own history.  The Japanese rightists' best excuse for instilling the twisted history and militarism to its next generation is that the Chinese Communist government uses lies to protect its rule.  Since the Chinese Communists are falsifying history, then those Japanese born after the Second World War should not believe what the people of China are saying about their history.  They will tell the younger Japanese: The Chinese government will falsify or invent its own internal history, then why won't they falsify or invent the Sino-Chinese history?  Therefore, it is not that we Japanese are falsifying or twisting history now, because the Sino-Japanese war history was originally falsified and twisted by the Chinese government.  So while the Chinese government is demanding that we revise our Japanese textbook, why doesn't China revise its own textbooks and return the truth to history!?

Looking at the "Full-time Normal High School Textbook (Compulsory)" titled <<Contemporary Chinese History>> Volume 2 (as evaluated by the National Secondary/Elementary School Texts Evaluation Committee in 2002 and published by the People's Educational Publishing  House in 2003) about the narrative of the War of Resistance Against Japan, it seems to be missing a lot of the major historical facts about how the KMT led the resistance project, whereas the pitiful 'contribution' by the Chinese Communists was highlighted.  For example, after the Marco Polo Bridge incident on July 7, 1937, the two heads of the KMT made famous declarations on resisting Japan at Lushan.  Chiang Kai-shek's speech was known as "scorch earth resistance war" while Wang Jinwei's speech was known as "ashes of time resistance war".  In the contemporary history textbooks used in Chinese secondary schools, these two famous speeches were not mentioned at all.  Instead, the resistance speeches of the Chinese Communists were spotlighted and provided in detail.

Why are the many Chinese historians who are angrily challenging and criticizing the new Japanese history school books not also angrily challenging and openly criticizing the historical lies made up by the Chinese Communists?  Worse yet, most of those Chinese historians who are criticizing the Japanese lies had been participants in the vast project of the ideological departments in China to create these historical lies.

Under these circumstances, you would have to suppose that the Chinese Communists will only lie to fool its own people, while they will respect the historical facts when they speak to the outside world about the Sino-Japanese War.  But based upon its consistent record of lying, it is impossible to get anyone to believe that.  How can anyone believe that a political regime which lies to its own nationals every day as well as its official historians will be honest with the outside world?