Date
23 February 2017
Students and soldiers gather outside the 918 History Museum in Shenyang; a copy of the memorandum (inset) issued by the education ministry on the revision of history textbooks. Photos: Reuters, Baidu
Students and soldiers gather outside the 918 History Museum in Shenyang; a copy of the memorandum (inset) issued by the education ministry on the revision of history textbooks. Photos: Reuters, Baidu

China to revise textbooks on war against Japanese invasion

China’s education ministry will revise history textbooks for primary and secondary schools to assert that the war against Japanese aggression in the country lasted 14 years, and not just eight as previously taught.

The move is aimed at promoting the important role the Communist Party played in the war across all teaching materials in the mainland, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The Chinese Communists played a leading role in the anti-Japanese efforts during the extra six years (1931 to 1937), especially in the northeastern part of the country. 

The Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army, for example, was organized by the Chinese Communist Party.

In its announcement on Tuesday, the ministry said a memorandum will be issued regarding the education syllabus for primary and secondary schools to reflect the historical facts.

The move is part of the activities to mark the 70th anniversary of China’s victory against the Japanese invaders.

The Ministry has ordered all relevant departments and agencies to review teaching materials and replace the term “eight-year war of resistance” with “14-year war of resistance”.

The revised materials should be in use in all primary and secondary schools by spring at the latest.

In October last year the State Council proposed that the teaching syllabus should be revised in order to introduce and reinforce “the 14-year war of resistance” concept.

The “eight-year war” started in 1937 when the Marco Polo Bridge (also known as the Lugou Bridge) incident occurred and ended when Japan surrendered unconditionally in 1945.

The newly proposed 14-year concept would date back to 1931, when a bomb destroyed a Japanese railway near Shenyang, commonly known as the Mukden Incident or  “Sept. 18 incident”.

In an interview with youth.cn. resistance historian Yue Siping said the war against Japanese aggression covered the period from September 1931 to July 1937, mainly involving the Northeast Volunteers’ Army, Northeast Anti-Japanese United Army and several other resistance armies.

There have been signs that the syllabus would be changed since President Xi Jinping, the Communist Party’s general secretary, said in a forum on Sept. 3, 2014 that the “Sept. 18 incident” marks the starting point of the war against Japanese aggression, according to the People’s Daily.

Reacting to the planned changes to the history textbooks, Professor Liu Wei-kai, at the Department of History of Taiwan’s National Chengchi University, told CNA News that the Communist Party is attempting to gain a bigger ownership of the resistance war over the Kuomintang and to portray Xi as the first leader to introduce the 14-year war of resistance concept.

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