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100 Foreign Aff. 192 (2021)
The Stories China Tells: The New Historical Memory Reshaping Chinese Nationalism

handle is hein.journals/fora100 and id is 410 raw text is: The Stories
China Tells
The New Historical
Memory Reshaping
Chinese Nationalism
Jessica Chen Weiss
China's Good War: How World War I Is
Shaping a New Nationalism
BY RANA MITTER. Harvard
University Press, 2020, 336 pp.
On September 3, 2015, a proces-
sion of Chinese missile launchers
and more than 12,000 soldiers
paraded through Tiananmen Square, in
Beijing, to commemorate the 70th
anniversary of the end of World War II.
Some 850,000 civilians were deployed to
patrol Beijing; in parts of the city, busi-
ness, traffic, and all wireless communica-
tions were shut down. But lest anyone get
the wrong impression, President Xi
Jinping delivered an address meant to
assuage those alarmed by all the firepower
and manpower on display. No matter
how much stronger it may become, China
will never seek hegemony or expansion,
he assured his audience, which included a
few dozen world leaders.
In fact, Xi argued, China had played
an important part in defeating fascism
in the twentieth century, and China was
JESSICA CHEN WEISS is Associate Professor of
Government at Cornell University and the
author of Powerful Patriots: Nationalist Protest
in China's Foreign Relations.

now helping maintain the international
order in the twenty-first. Employing
the terms that the Chinese Communist
Party (ccp) uses to describe World War II,
Xi hailed China's commitment to
uphold the outcomes of the Chinese
People's War of Resistance Against
Japanese Aggression and the World
Antifascist War and called on all coun-
tries to respect the international order
and system underpinned by the pur-
poses and principles of the UN Charter,
build a new type of international
relations featuring win-win coopera-
tion, and advance the noble cause of
global peace and development.
Under Xi, the ccp has tried to
project an image of seeking peace
through strength, neither picking fights
nor shying away from confrontation. In
recent years, however, China's increas-
ingly assertive and often abrasive
conduct has undercut its attempt to
claim international leadership. Xi's
appeals to the past represent one way to
offset this inherent tension.
But China's interest in commemo-
rating World War II began much
earlier, in the 1980s. The chaos and
trauma of the Mao-era famine and the
Cultural Revolution had left scars on
the national psyche and had laid bare
the flaws of Marxism-Leninism as a
governing philosophy. When Deng
Xiaoping took the helm after Mao
Zedong's death in 1976, the ccp stifled
the flames of class struggle and stoked
capitalist fervor and consumerism
instead. Yet even as the party adapted
its ideology, its search for popular legit-
imacy remained tethered to national-
ism and became increasingly rooted in
China's role in World War II, which
Chinese leaders routinely held up as

192 FOREIGN AFFAIRS

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