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INTERNATIONAL > East Asia & Pacific

China’s Xi plans to attend next week’s Nanjing massacre ceremony

  • December 9, 2017
  • , Kyodo News , 00:53 a.m.
  • English Press

SHANGHAI — China is making final arrangements for President Xi Jinping to attend a memorial ceremony next week for victims of the 1937 massacre committed by Japanese troops in the eastern city of Nanjing, diplomatic sources said Friday.


While inviting some ambassadors and senior foreign officials based in Beijing to the annual ceremony, Chinese officials explained that Xi is planning to take part in the event, the sources said.


Local authorities in the city also admitted to Kyodo News that they are preparing for his participation, which will be the first time since 2014.


This year’s state commemoration, marking the 80th anniversary of the massacre, comes as Sino-Japanese relations are improving at a brisk pace and a month after Xi agreed with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that Asia’s two biggest economies would make a “new start” in their relationship.


But his possible attendance suggests China’s uncompromising stance on wartime history issues. What Xi will say about the Japanese military rampage that China claims killed more than 300,000 people will likely have a significant impact on the near-future course of bilateral ties.


The extent to which Japanese troops’ killed a large number of civilians while capturing what was then China’s capital and during the weeks that followed remains a thorny issue between the two countries.


In 2014, China designated Dec. 13 as a national memorial day for the victims and for the first time held a state observance of the tragedy, which was presided over by Xi, the country’s most powerful leader in decades who began his second five-year term as head of the Communist Party in October.


Since then, no one who sits on the ruling party’s seven-member Politburo Standing Committee has attended the ceremony at a Nanjing memorial hall dedicated to the victims.


Japan and China remain apart on the scale of the massacre. Japanese historians have estimated that the number of Chinese civilians and soldiers killed then varies from tens of thousands to 200,000.


For the upcoming ceremony, diplomats of countries having traditionally friendly relations with China have been invited and some Southeast Asian countries are expected to send their ambassadors, the sources said.


According to people in Nanjing, local authorities plan tightened traffic control and security measures for Xi’s visit. They have also ordered some factories to suspend production as part of efforts to prevent serious air pollution on the day of the ceremony.

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