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18 SEPTEMBER 2020

China’s Good War: How World War II is Shaping a New Nationalism

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Chinese leaders once tried to suppress memories of their nation’s brutal experience during World War II. Now they celebrate the “victory”-a key foundation of China’s rising nationalism. For most of its history, the People’s Republic of China limited public discussion of the war against Japan. It was an experience of victimization-and one that saw Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek fighting for the same goals. But now, as China grows more powerful, the meaning of the war is changing. Rana Mitter argues that China’s reassessment of the World War II years is central to its newfound confidence abroad and to mounting nationalism at home.