China invites former soldiers in Taiwan to war commemorations

China invites former soldiers in Taiwan to war commemorations
PHOTO: Reuters

BEIJING - China will welcome former soldiers living in Taiwan who fought against Japan in World War Two to take part in commemorations marking 70 years since the end of the conflict in Asia, state media said on Wednesday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will oversee a military parade through Beijing's Tiananmen Square and other events on Sept. 3 and has invited foreign military officials to take part, though not said explicitly who will come.

After World War Two, Chinese Communists and Nationalists resumed a civil war that ended when Nationalist forces withdrew to Taiwan in 1949.

Though ruled separately, China claims Taiwan as its own, and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its rule. No peace treaty to formally end the war has ever been signed.

Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said Beijing would welcome anyone from Taiwan to take part, but especially old soldiers, family members and descendents, state news agency Xinhua said.

"Victory in the war against Japan was a great victory for the entire nation," Ma said. "Under the new historical conditions, compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait (should) jointly remember the victory."

China's ruling Communist Party never misses an opportunity to remind people of its struggle against the Japanese, but a lot of the fighting was actually done by the forces of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government.

While China and Taiwan have signed a series of landmark trade and economic deals since the China-friendly Ma Ying-jeou became president of Taiwan in 2008, there are still deep political and military suspicions, especially in proudly democratic Taiwan.

Japan's 1895-1945 rule in Taiwan is seen by some as having been good for the island's development. Perceptions of Japan in other parts of Asia, particularly in China and Korea, are often deeply negative.

Nationalist Chinese rule post-1945 is thought of less positively by many Taiwanese, because of the long period of martial law it ushered in.

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