In order to understand modern China well, its ideology, the self-consciousness of society, as well as the specifics of Chinese foreign policy, it is also necessary to understand the calendar of its most important historical dates.

On September 3, the People’s Republic of China celebrates Victory Day over the Japanese invaders – this is one of the most significant dates for this country (the United States and Great Britain, like China, also celebrate the end of World War II, celebrating the days of victory over Japan). The holiday was officially established on February 27, 2014 by the decision of the 12th session of the National People’s Congress.
For a long time, memorable dates associated with the Second World War were celebrated quite modestly in the People’s Republic of China. To some extent, experts explain this by the fact that the Kuomintang government led by Chiang Kai-shek, and not the Chinese Communist Party, accepted Japan’s surrender in 1945.


However, gradually the perception and ideological interpretation of this date in China has changed and today the victory over Japan in the middle of the twentieth century is presented without any political coloring – as a historical victory of the Chinese people. In addition, the Kuomintang and the CPC, as competing political forces, managed to unite against Japanese aggression and postpone their differences until the end of World War II.
Also at the present stage, the ideological significance of September 3 was strengthened by the presentation of President Xi Jinping, who said that the victory of the Chinese people in the war with Japan was a historic turning point for the Chinese nation in the process of moving from plunging into a deep crisis to rebirth (

The symbolism and meaning of this date for China can be largely compared with May 9 – the day when the Great Victory Day over Nazi Germany is celebrated on a large scale in the states of the former USSR. At the same time, in early September, China celebrates not just the end of World War II and the final surrender of Japan.
This is the date when the Chinese people were freed from the tragic Japanese occupation, which is remembered in world history for its inhuman cruelty. The description of all the atrocities of the Japanese militarists is not the purpose of this material, but for interested readers we suggest reading a brief history at the link

Some facts of the Sino-Japanese war, which was the most important part of the Far Eastern theater of military operations during the Second World War.
Chronologically, the war in China lasted eight years-the longest: the fighting against Japan began two years before the outbreak of World War II. Discussions among historians increasingly agree that the Second World War began not on September 1, 1939, but two years earlier – on July 7, 1937. On that day, Japanese troops stationed in the vicinity of Beijing provoked a clash with Chinese units.

By that time, Japan and Germany had already concluded the Anti-Comintern Pact (November 25, 1936). Germany fought in Spain on the side of Franco. The Japanese Kwantung Army had already controlled the northeast of China for 6 years, where the puppet state of Manchukuo was created in 1931. So on July 7, 1937, the actions of the fascist bloc acquired a global scale.

Why were Japanese troops on the outskirts of Beiping, as Beijing was called at that time? The undeclared war of Japan against China began in 1931, and by 1937, not only Manchuria, but also the provinces of Northern China were under the control of the Imperial Army. Having created a huge bridgehead on Chinese soil, having pulled up reserves and enlisted the support of Germany, the Japanese decided to start a new stage of the occupation war (

Thus, China became the object of military aggression by Japan (which signed the Triple Pact with Germany and Italy, creating a fascist bloc), during which Tokyo aimed to quickly occupy China and the countries of Southeast Asia, and then join Germany in the war with the USSR.


According to various estimates, China’s resistance to the Japanese helped the Soviet Union, which could fully concentrate on the fight against Germany. Also, due to Chinese opposition, Japan was forced to pull significant military forces into China, which could otherwise be used against the United States and its allies.

According to official data, over 20 million Chinese, both military personnel and civilians, died during the Sino-Japanese war (according to other sources, about 50 million people died). Japan still does not recognize the war crimes committed by Japanese soldiers on the territory of Northeast China during the Second World War… (


Despite the numerical superiority over the Japanese, in reality, the effectiveness and combat capability of the Chinese troops was very low. For the most part, due to the more backward weapons of the Chinese army, which suffered 8.4 times more losses than the Japanese side. The situation was also aggravated by the difficult internal situation, when two ideologically different armies – Chiang Kai-shek and Mao Zedong-were actually fighting on the side of China, which, admittedly, were still able to unite against Japan for a while.

Assessing its military potential, the Japanese command initially planned to capture the whole of China in three months. But in the end, Japan was heavily bogged down in the military campaign in China (significant military and economic assistance was provided by the USSR, the United States, etc. allies) and failed to fully implement its strategic plans for the occupation of Asia, etc., which significantly changed the scenario of the war.

In general, September 3 has become not just a very significant date in recent Chinese history, but even after seven decades it remains an important factor in China’s foreign policy.


The recognition of China’s international role and its contribution to the suppression of world fascism was evidenced by the granting of a permanent seat to the PRC in the UN Security Council. Today, the celebration of the victory in the war of resistance of Japan is designed to encourage China to show even greater initiative in international cooperation, to be active on the world stage and to assume even greater responsibility and obligations in the world community. 

China’s opposition to fascism in the face of Japan creates a historical basis for friendly relations with the countries of the former USSR-Russia, Kazakhstan, etc. The USSR provided China with weapons, ammunition and specialists, and the accession of the Red Army to the anti-Japanese coalition was in many ways a decisive factor in the surrender of imperial Japan.

In general, the Soviet Union brought liberation from Japanese militarism to hundreds of millions of people in Asia, promoted the formation of People’s China, an important partner in the twentieth century (despite certain Soviet-Chinese contradictions in the period from the 1960s to the 1990s) and at the present stage (

This date is also of considerable importance for the Kazakh-Chinese friendship and cooperation. Representatives of our republic in the ranks of the Red Army also took part in the battles in the Far East and the defeat of the Kwantung Army of Japan ( and, accordingly, made a significant contribution to the liberation of China. At the same time, the Chinese people still remember and honor the exploits of front-line soldiers from the Kazakh land who liberated Manchuria from the Japanese (

The main part of the Soviet-Chinese trade and economic assistance to China was sent through Xinjiang, neighboring with Kazakhstan, since almost all the seaports and land arteries of Eastern and Southern China were blocked or occupied by the Japanese. The USSR, at the request of the Chinese government, created a special road corridor “Sary-Ozek (East Kazakhstan) – Urumqi – Lanzhou” with a length of 3000 km. The general management of the transportation of military-technical cargo to China was carried out by the Soviet-Chinese operational headquarters in Alma-Ata. The transportation of goods through this channel began in October 1937 (

In addition, Kazakhstan, far from those places, has another connection with the events in the Far East during the Second World War. So, about 50 thousand Japanese prisoners of war captured by the Soviet troops were sent to various hard work in the Kazakh SSR (

September 3 and the memory of the occupation determine the still very difficult political relations between China and Japan. The Second World War shaped the current attitude of the Chinese towards the Japanese. The experience of the Chinese army’s participation in the Second World War was also taken into account, therefore, China pays special attention to the development of its military potential in order to no longer allow aggression and occupation from outside.

As a result of that great war, modern Japan is still prohibited from having a full-fledged armed forces, and despite all its economic power, it still has only limited self-defense forces. At the same time, the Japanese political elite periodically provokes a negative attitude towards its country from its Asian neighbors due to visits by top Japanese officials to the Yasukuni Shrine, where the memory of Japanese war criminals is still honored.

The difficult fate of Chinese Taiwan is also connected with this date. In 1945, the act of surrender of Japan was signed on board the US battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay in the presence of representatives of the Kuomintang, as the ruling Chinese National Party at that time. After the end of the Second World War, China again found itself in a state of war, this time civil. It lasted for another 4 years, but it became a turning point in the further development of the state. After the victory of the Communist Party of China and the formation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the Kuomintang retreated to Taiwan, but this is a completely different story.

In general, September 3, 1945 is a very capacious, multifaceted and interesting topic for further study, which is associated with many deep processes in the history of the world and our region.

Today, this date also determines the changing historical consciousness of modern Chinese society, still strongly influences the current foreign policy paradigm of the People’s Republic of China, its perception of its role in international affairs.

At the same time, this memorable date in the history of the twentieth century significantly brings together the peoples of our countries through a great common victory in the Second World War, which is important to remember and pass on to future generations of Kazakhstanis and Chinese. 

China Studies Centre,

Nur-Sultan, 2020

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