As an Englishman living in Nanjing, it was a week ago that I traveled to the Memorial To The Victims Of The Nanjing Massacre By Japanese Invaders, commemorating an event in which an estimated 300,000 of the cities inhabitants were murdered by the Japanese in December 1937, during the Sino-Japanese War.
The Sino-Japanese War was nothing more than a war of one-sided murderous aggression by the Empire of Japan against China – Japan wanted to have more of China for itself, while China wasn't trying to invade Japan.
During that war, and most famously during the massacre in Nanjing, Japanese forces would often murder any civilians within sight – adults, the elderly, children and babies. They would also knock on doors, then immediately murder the person who answered the door, and then proceed with murdering their way through the whole household.
About a week or so before I visited the memorial, I watched two survivor’s testimonies on youtube, and it was the first time in god knows how long that I needed to wipe a tissue below my eyes – the Nanjing Massacre was among the worst war crimes of the 20th Century.
The period of Chinese history during the nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth centuries were not a good time for the country at all – China was increasingly carved up into spheres of influence by outside aggressors, starting with the Opium Wars in which Britain, trying to turn the Chinese Nation into Opium drug addicts to fill their own pockets, used gun boat diplomacy when the Qing government objected.
|A French Political Cartoon from the height of|
Imperialism, when the Japanese and European
Aggressors regarded China as a cake to share
among themselves regardless of whether the Chin-
ese wanted this or not.
During the century after that point, both the European and Japanese aggressors viewed China as a cake for themselves to feast on, a treasure chest for them to loot, and the aggressor nations viewed the Chinese as an inferior people, just as they viewed all of their captive peoples across the world.
This is a tad ironic given that the Chinese had invented so much, and had been building grand temples, cities and palaces when we Europeans were living in the dark ages, but I digress.
|A Liberal Party Election Poster from the|
British General Election of 1906, criticizing
their Tory opponents for allowing Chinese
people to move to South Africa, arguing that
SA should be for white Brits to move to instead.
Back to the Point
A century ago, China was a country that was treated as inferior and as fair game by the imperialist powers, both European and Japanese. Likewise, the USA had banned Chinese immigration to their country – they only wanted whites.
Even though the days of Japanese and Western colonialism are long gone, for many decades afterwards, it was pretty much only the West and Japan that were the industrialized and developed nations.
Then, they were joined by the Four Asian Tigers (including Taiwan, the Republic of China) and now by Mainland China, the People’s Republic of China.
So when I look around me in 21st Century China, I just feel so thrilled that a country that was in such a bad way a century ago is now excelling to such a degree, and without having to steal from other countries in the form of colonies or overseas coups. And that is the way that we in the west should view China’s rise, regardless of our many political and ideological differences.
I also hope that other countries that fell victim to colonialist aggression will likewise follow China's lead, and end the economic divide between the formerly colonised and the former colonisers.