Recorded Webinar: Why have the Chinese rediscovered World War II?

By Professor Rana Mitter, published 20th March 2024

The Chinese regime never used to want to talk about their country’s experience in World War Two. The Japanese occupation of parts of China was felt to be a humiliating episode that was best forgotten, and the Communists were uncomfortable that their nationalist enemy Chiang Kai-Shek had been China’s main wartime leader. And there was too much embarrassing Chinese collaboration with the Japanese.

But China has rediscovered its war. Today WWII is constantly present in Chinese movies, TV shows, street art, popular writing, museums and social media. Wartime China is now presented as victor, not victim. Another effect: Beijing is being positioned as a creator and protector of the international order that came out of the war—an order, China argues, that’s now under threat from the United States. China’s rediscovery of the war has become a platform for the new, assertive Chinese nationalism promoted by President Xi Jinping

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