Peace cherished as China commemorates war against Japanese invaders

Sirens sounded and a huge bell tolled in Shenyang, capital of northeast China’s Liaoning Province, on Saturday in commemoration of the September 18 Incident 90 years ago that marked the start of Japan’s 14-year invasion of China.

Some 300 people gathered in front of the 9.18 Historical Museum in the morning. At 9:18 a.m., 14 representatives from all walks of life struck a huge bell 14 times, symbolizing the arduous course of China’s 14-year-long bitter war against Japanese aggressors. Air raid sirens wailed for three minutes, with pedestrians standing in silence and cars honking horns.

People attend a bell-tolling ceremony marking the 90th anniversary of the September 18 Incident at the 9.18 Historical Museum in Shenyang, capital of northeast China’s Liaoning Province, Sept. 18, 2021. (Xinhua/Pan Yulong)

Zhang Jian, a 90-year-old veteran, said although 90 years have passed, Chinese people must not forget the painful war that caused tens of millions of casualties.

“We must be prepared for danger in times of peace, bearing in mind that a backward country will be beaten. We should be united to build a strong country,” said Zhang.

On Sept. 18, 1931, Japanese troops blew up a section of railway under their control near Shenyang and accused Chinese troops of sabotage as a pretext for the attack. Later that night, they bombarded barracks near Shenyang, starting the bloody invasion.

Students visit the Exhibition Hall of Evidences of Crime Committed by Unit 731 of the Japanese Imperial Army in Harbin, northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province, Sept. 18, 2021. (Xinhua/Wang Jianwei)

Since 1995, it has been a routine for Shenyang to sound the alarm on Sept. 18.

A blue bag embroidered with the word “TRUTH” is on display in the museum. Next to it lies a document of over 400 pages of facts written in Chinese and English, which were collected by nine patriots back then in Shenyang at the risk of their lives.

The document provided first-hand evidence of the Japanese invasion, helping China win support from the international community, said Fan Lihong, curator of the museum.

Just 3 km from the museum, the Beidaying (Northern Grand Barracks) site that the Japanese troops bombarded is undergoing renovation and is set to reopen to visitors as an exhibition hall.

The site, housing over 1,400 cultural relic items, is expected to virtually recreate the chilling historical scenes through multimedia techniques as a remembrance of the painful history, said Song Zhenhong, a cultural official of the city.

Lin Qingsheng, who was born and grew up near the site during the war, often comes to check on the construction progress of the exhibition hall.

“The war-torn visuals are nowhere to be seen now, but I hope people can remember miseries of the past,” said Lin, 85. “If you don’t know the bitterness of the past, you won’t cherish the sweetness of the present life.”

Other Chinese cities including Harbin, Dalian, Changchun and Nanjing sounded sirens as well, as a symbolic reminder for people to stay alert in times of peace.

People attend a mourning ceremony at the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders in Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province, Sept. 18, 2021. (Xinhua/Li Bo)

While the sirens were wailing throughout Shenyang, a China-made high-speed train operated by 39-year-old train driver Wang Wei passed by the 9.18 Historical Museum.

“Decades ago, Japanese invaders waged war and built railways for plundering resources in China. Now, we have high-speed rails and bullet trains,” Wang said, discerning the sharp contrast between the past and present of China’s railway development.

“Only a strong country can promise us a bright future,” he added.

(Reporting by Chen Mengyang, Sun Renbin, Zhao Hongnan, Ding Feibai, Luo Qi, Lyu Qiuping).

(Main pic: People present baskets of flowers to pay tribute to revolutionary martyrs during an activity in commemoration of the 90th anniversary of the September 18 Incident in Nanchang, east China’s Jiangxi Province, Sept. 18, 2021. – Xinhua/Peng Zhaozhi)

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