Xi recognizes KMT contribution in WWII during meet with Lien

By Chen Heying Source:Global Times Published: 2015-9-2 0:28:01

Criticism of Lien attendance at parade shows ‘Cold War mentality’

The general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Xi Jinping on Tuesday met with former chairman of the Kuomintang (KMT) party Lien Chan in Beijing, with both sides recognizing each other's contribution in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45).

Lien arrived in Beijing Monday to attend the Victory Day military parade and other activities commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

Xi said the CPC and the KMT had jointly established a counter-Japan united front to safeguard State sovereignty and national dignity during the war.

"Both the frontlines and the battlefields behind enemy lines closely coordinated with each other and made important contributions to victory," Xi said.

"It is the first time that a CPC leader has stated clearly the KMT's contribution to World War II in front of their KMT counterparts, marking significant progress for the CPC in putting old grudges aside," Wang Jianmin, a research fellow at the Taiwan Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Lien said the KMT forces led by the late KMT leader Chiang Kai-shek had unnerved the Japanese troops at the major set-piece battles, while the CPC forces led by Mao Zedong had pinned down the enemy on the battlefields behind enemy lines, Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA) reported on Tuesday.

Lien on Monday visited Lugou Bridge and Wanping town in southwest Beijing, which witnessed the start of China's eight-year war against Japanese aggression. He also visited the Museum of the War of Chinese People's Resistance against Japanese Aggression.

When Japan invaded Northeast China in 1931 and launched its full-scale invasion in 1937, "the unprecedented national calamity roused unprecedented national awareness," Xi said, adding that "at the critical moment, the Chinese rose to fight bitterly with the Japanese militarist invaders."

"The two parties had called each other bandits in the past. As cross-Straits ties thaw, the Chinese mainland looks at the history more squarely," Zhang Wensheng, a research fellow at the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University, told the Global Times.

However, some KMT members and the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) disagree with Lien.

Charles Chen I-hsin, spokesman for the island leader Ma Ying-jeou, restated on Tuesday that both the frontline and the battlefields behind enemy lines were under the leadership of the KMT government, according to the CNA.

KMT vice chairman, Hau Lung-bin, said that he and his father, former premier Hau Pei-tsun, had asked Lien to reconsider attending Beijing's military parade as long as the mainland government fails to rectify its version of history - that the KMT was the mainstay of the force fighting Japan, the Taipei Times reported.

The KMT still holds a traditional Cold War mentality, remaining hostile to the CPC, Wang said.

Victory in the war against Japanese aggression was "China's first complete victory against foreign invasion in modern times," Xi said, adding the achievement was made through the struggle of the entire nation, including residents of Taiwan.

Lien paid an icebreaking visit to the Chinese mainland in 2005 when then-DPP chairman Chen Shui-bian was in office, which improved cross-Straits relations.

Taiwan news site chinatimes.com reported on Friday that Lien would attend the parade as chairman of a foundation on cross-Straits peaceful development. The mainland side arranged a high-level meeting with Lien to support his bold choice amid warnings from within the island, Wang said, although Lien is no longer the KMT chairman.

Xi called on people of the mainland and Taiwan to remember history, unite to safeguard peace, and promote cross-Strait relations and national rejuvenation.

Xinhua contributed to this story

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