BEIJING, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- More than 200 college students and teachers gathered at the Beijing University campus to watch the raising of China's national flag Tuesday morning as the country's national anthem, "March of the Volunteers," played.
Tuesday was the 81st anniversary of the "September 18 Incident," which directly preceded Japan's invasion of northeast China.
In the solemn flag-raising ceremony, students stood in silent tribute to the Chinese victims of the Anti-Japanese War (1937-1945).
The ceremony was held to remind young people about the humiliation China faced during this period of history and to encourage them to "revitalize China," according to organizers.
The Japanese army launched its invasion of northeast China on Sept. 18, 1931, ushering in a deadly era for the Chinese. The date has been marked as the "day of national humiliation."
"We should squarely face this part of history," said Li Lijiao, a student in the university's school of foreign languages, adding that the Chinese should stick to "rational patriotism" and hard work.
Students and teachers also lodged representations on the Japanese "purchase" of the Diaoyu Islands and planned to hand over a written protest to the Japanese Embassy in Beijing after the ceremony.
On Sept. 18, 1931, Japanese troops blew up a section of the railway under its control near Shenyang, then accused Chinese troops of sabotage as a pretext for war. They bombarded the barracks of Chinese troops near Shenyang the same evening, thus starting a large-scale armed invasion of northeast China.
Four months later, Japanese troops occupied 1.28 million km of Chinese territory in northeast China, an area 3.5 times the landmass of Japan.
The incident was also followed by Japan's full-scale invasion of China and the rest of Asia, and the 14-year War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression.
The brutal invasion plunged China into unprecedented circumstances, in which half of its territory was enveloped in the fire of war and more than 35 million soldiers and civilians were killed.