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Visitors holding Chinese national flags are photographed in front of the 9.18 Historical Museum in Shenyang, northeast China’s Liaoning Province, September 18, 2019. Air raid sirens sounded again in the city hall. town at 9:18 am that day. The “September 18 incident” in 1931 was followed by the large-scale invasion of China by Japan, triggering the 14-year war on Japanese aggression. Photo: IC

Reflecting air raid sirens in many cities, silent tributes watched by ordinary Chinese on the streets of the country, the airing of documentaries on the trials of Japanese war criminals on national television and countless messages from “never forget” on social media platforms – China in full swing as it marks a day of remembrance and reflection: the 90th anniversary of the September 18 incident, which falls on Saturday.

Although nine decades have passed since that fateful day in 1931 that marked the start of the large-scale invasion of Japanese militarists and war crimes in China for years to come, emotions, anger and hatred remain. very keen for many Chinese people on what is widely regarded as an incident which has changed the national humiliation.

These sentiments were further reinforced by Japan’s recent provocation and hostility towards China, including questioning of China’s performance on the Taiwan issue – reflected in the chaotic Liberal leadership election campaign – Democrat (LDP), which started on Friday with candidates. appearing to argue over their rhetoric and anti-Chinese positions.

Observers said the growing outrage and outrage that will be displayed on Saturday and that has been building up for months in China over Japan’s recent provocation should serve as a stern warning to Tokyo that it is on a dangerous path – if he continues to upset a China much more powerful than before.

Air raid sirens will sound in most major cities in China on Saturday. In Shenyang, northeast China’s Liaoning Province, where the incident occurred, sirens will sound at exactly 9:18 a.m. and people and vehicles will stop moving and observe a minute’s silence for pay homage, several residents told the Global Times.

“At this time, my blood is still boiling, and heroic images of Chinese soldiers killing enemies to defend the country are emerging in my mind,” a Shenyang resident surnamed Cui told the Global Times on Friday. “The September 18 incident is very important to every resident of Shenyang, so it is important to all Chinese.”

Stressing the importance of the day for many Chinese, after widespread backlash, Xi’an, in northwest China’s Shaanxi province, where the 14th National Games are being held, abandoned plans to postpone the sirens triggered and finally decided to start the air raid. sirens on Saturday.

On national television, the documentary Asia-Pacific war crimes trials, an award-winning world series that focuses on the trials of Japanese war criminals after WWII is set to be rebroadcast.

On Chinese social media, floods of Chinese internet users said the historic alarm bells were ringing and that they would not forget the nation’s humiliation. On Sina Weibo, the topic “remembering September 18” has gained an estimated 4.17 billion views at the time of publication. Another topic, the “90th Anniversary of the September 18 Incident,” attracted 120 million views.

Also on social media, some netizens, including the fan club of Chinese girl group 7SENSES, urged fans to stop posting entertaining social media posts on the anniversary of the September 18 incident and asked fans to watch their lyrics instead.

The commemorative activities are not only aimed at residents of the Chinese mainland, but also residents of the island of Taiwan.

As the incident is a painful memory for the entire Chinese nation, including compatriots in Taiwan, mainland China will establish a new cross-strait communication and exchange venue at the Incident History Museum. September 18 in Shenyang, Zhu Fenglian, spokesman for the Taiwan State Council Affairs Office, said Wednesday at a press conference.

Zhu said that 12 of the 82 cross-strait communication sites on the mainland are themed on the Chinese people’s war of resistance against Japanese aggression, which chronicles the heroic struggle of the Chinese people and the great spirit of resistance to aggression.

Zhu called on compatriots on both sides of the Strait, especially young people, to visit these places, learn about the history and draw strength from it.

Many residents of the island of Taiwan have long had mistaken and confused historical values ​​and some even blindly admire Japan because the invaders forced local residents to receive education on loyalty to the Emperor of Japan during their occupation. and because the DPP authorities are constantly pushing for “De-Sinization.”

The opening of the new cross-strait exchange also came after recent sweeping rhetoric from Japanese politicians about Japan’s role in the Taiwan Strait if the Chinese mainland uses forces against secessionists on the island. Such rhetoric has already sparked widespread outrage in China.

Growing outrage

Before Saturday’s 90th anniversary, Chinese public sentiment towards Japan had already deteriorated, reflected in recent backlashes against some Chinese celebrities’ connection to Japanese war shrines.

Chinese actor Zhang Zhehan, who posed for photos at Japan’s Yasukuni Shrine, has been forced to quit the entertainment industry as many mainstream platforms have removed his films and television works, variety shows and his music.

Two weeks after Zhang’s industry ban, struggling Chinese actress Zhao Wei also faced severe backlash. She reportedly signed Zhang at her company last year. Many netizens also disclosed that Zhao wore a Japanese military flag on his costume in 2001, which sparked a wave of public criticism.

Zhao’s name has been removed from most of the works she has performed in on major Chinese video platforms, and many movies, talk shows, and TV series she has performed in have also been taken off the platforms.

Meanwhile, Japanese cultural products are also being boycotted in Dalian, northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, a city that suffered invasions by Japanese troops at the end of the dynasty. Qing, including the bloody Lüshun massacre in 1894 and World War II. A Japanese-themed shopping street dubbed “Little Kyoto” in Dalian suspended operations on September 3 after it sparked controversy.

Such widespread outrage among the Chinese public shows that public goodwill towards Japan is plummeting, Lü Chao, a researcher at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

If mutual public goodwill is damaged too much due to the provocations initiated by Japan, there will be less room for Sino-Japanese relations to recover, and Japan will certainly suffer more if bilateral relations deteriorate, Da said. Zhigang, director and researcher, Institute of Northeast Asian Studies, Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

The decline in public goodwill is a result of Japanese politicians’ increasingly hostile and radical approach to China, analysts said, pointing to the provocative rhetoric in the PLD leadership election.

Among the prominent candidates, Fumio Kishida, Taro Kono and Sanae Takaichi have shown aggressive positions vis-à-vis China.

Takaichi, a former Minister of Home Affairs, has frequently visited the Yasukuni Shrine – a symbol of Japan’s militaristic past. She reportedly said she would continue to visit the shrine if elected, drawing sharp criticism from China.

Responding to Takaichi’s remarks, Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said on Tuesday that China’s position on the Yasukuni Shrine is consistent and clear and that China’s internal affairs do not accept any foreign interference. “Japanese politicians should stop making China a problem. Enough with such senseless political hype,” Zhao said.