President Xi Jinping attended a ceremony Monday to mark the 77th anniversary of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, widely considered as the spark of the second Sino-Japanese war.
The ceremony was held at the Chinese People’s Anti-Japanese War Memorial Hall near Lugouqiao in southern Beijing, Ming Pao Daily reported Monday.
It came amid rising tensions between China and Japan over a maritime dispute, Tokyo’s refusal to acknowledge history and its recent decision to lift restrictions on its military.
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident, also known as the Lugouqiao Incident, took place on July 7, 1937 when repeated violations of a Sino-Japanese ceasefire on both sides of the bridge led to a large-scale confrontation.
Historians believe this signaled the start of the second Sino-Japanese war.
Liang Yunxiang, a professor at Peking University, said the observance was intended to warn Japan not to repeat history.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office in December, has been accused of repeated attempts to whitewash Japan’s wartime atrocities, the report said.
Abe’s recent moves to lift Japan’s self-imposed ban on collective defense and to forge a defense alliance with Australia are seen in China as Tokyo’s return to militarism, Liang was quoted as saying.
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