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“To Serve Revenge for the Dead”: Chinese Communist Responses to Japanese War Crimes in the PRC Foreign Ministry Archive, 1949–1956


Using newly available documents from the PRC Foreign Ministry Archive, this article traces the evolving legacies of the War of Resistance in the first seven years of the People's Republic. Analysis is offered of PRC campaigns against Japanese bacteriological war crimes, criticisms of American dealings with Japanese war criminals, and the 1956 trial of Japanese at Shenyang. Throughout, behind-the-scenes tensions with the Soviet Union and internal bureaucratic struggles over the Japanese legacy regarding these matters are revealed. The article thereby aims to shed light on how the War of Resistance affected post-war China's foreign relations, demonstrating how the young Republic advantageously used wartime legacies as diplomatic tools in relations with the superpowers and within the orchestrated clangour of domestic propaganda campaigns.

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Julia Strauss , “Paternalist terror: the campaign to suppress counterrevolutionaries and regime consolidation in the People's Republic of China, 1950–1953,” Comparative Studies in Society and History, Vol. 44, No. 1 (2002), pp. 80103

Joshua Fogel , “Introduction: the Nanjing Massacre in history,” in Joshua Fogel (ed.), The Nanjing Massacre in History and Historiography (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000)

Parks Coble , “China's ‘new-remembering’ of the Anti-Japanese War of Resistance,” The China Quarterly, No. 190 (2007), pp. 394410

Takashi Yoshida , The Making of the Rape of Nanking: History and Memory in Japan, China, and the United States (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006)

Sheldon Harris , Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare, 1932–1945 (New York: Routledge, 2002)

Jing-Bao Nie , “The West's dismissal of the Khabarovsk trial as ‘communist propaganda’: ideology, evidence and international bioethics,” Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2004), pp. 3242

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The China Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0305-7410
  • EISSN: 1468-2648
  • URL: /core/journals/china-quarterly
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