MOSCOW – Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed at their summit Friday to oppose attempts to distort the history of World War II, in which they emerged as victors over German fascism and Japanese militarism.
Speaking at a joint news conference, Xi said it is important to uphold the results of the war and to counter falsifications and distortions of history.
He was evidently referring to Japan, which China has accused of falsifying and distorting history, especially since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, viewed in Beijing as a revisionist, returned to power in late 2012.
China has been wary of what Abe will say this summer on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Japan’s defeat and has called on him not to water down apologies issued by previous governments for the suffering Japan inflicted on its neighbors through colonization and wartime aggression in the name of Emperor Hirohito, posthumously known as Emperor Showa.
On Saturday, Xi was to attend a massive military parade in Red Square to commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory in what the Russians call the Great Patriotic War against Nazism.
He “warmly” invited Putin to visit Beijing to take part in the Sept. 3 celebrations of the 70th anniversary of victory in what China calls the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.
At their news conference, Putin publicly accepted Xi’s invitation and said that when he goes to Beijing, they will together “honor the memory of those who fought shoulder to shoulder against militarist Japan.”
“Our countries suffered the greatest losses in this war, and this is why we so consistently oppose any attempt to rehabilitate Nazism and militarism or falsify history,” Putin said.
Earlier, during his talks with Putin, Xi said that even as both countries celebrate the 70th anniversary of their victories, neither does so “out of enmity toward any other countries.”
He said the commemorative events to be held Saturday and in September are “to pay tribute to our fallen heroes and make the memory of these pages of history immortal, so that never again will this tragedy of war be repeated.”
“We do so in order to build peace on this Earth. It is with these aims that we celebrate these holiday dates.”
Meanwhile, the two leaders agreed to integrate the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union and the China-led Silk Road Economic Belt, issuing a joint statement to that effect.
Putin said the integration of the post-Soviet trade bloc involving Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia with China’s Silk Road project — which seeks to build a transport, energy and trade corridor between Asia and Europe — opens the way for building a common economic space in Eurasia.
Calling China his country’s “strategic key partner,” Putin noted that bilateral trade reached $88.4 billion last year, according to Russian data, and $95 billion according to Chinese statistics.
Among other things, he said, he and Xi discussed the possibilities for Sino-Russian cooperation in the energy sector. “We looked at oil and gas projects and projects in electricity, nuclear energy and energy conservation,” he said.