By Xinhua writer Ren Ke
BEIJING, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- Eighty-one years have passed since the Japanese invasion of China's northeast. But now, it is time for Japan to drop its sense of superiority regarding China and Asia in general.
Japan has to recognize that China is no longer weak and poor as it was in the 1930s, when it suffered great disasters brought by Japanese militarism. The balance of power between the two countries has drastically changed.
Sept. 18, 1931 is a day of disgrace in Chinese history, as it marks the day Japan launched an invasion of China's northeast and occupied the whole region four months later. The incident was followed by Japan's invasion of Pacific Asia in 1941, leading to one of the greatest disasters in the region.
The anniversary this year is quite different from before, as it coincides with Japan's "purchase" of part of the Diaoyu Islands, triggering fierce anti-Japan sentiment in China.
Japan's arrogance and provocation regarding the Diaoyu Islands is in line with its complex formed over one century ago, when it proclaimed superiority over China and Asia.
The two countries became rivals over the last 500 years, with Japan catching up with and defeating China in the late 19th century. Even its defeat in World War II could not break its sense of superiority, as Japan considered China's victory to be a present from the United States and the Soviet Union, turning a blind eye to the Chinese people's heroic resistance.
Japan has been heavily influenced by China and learned a great deal from Chinese culture. China enjoyed comprehensive superiority over its neighbor in all fields, including military strength, at that time.
However, China experienced decline since the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), while Japan rose as a world power in the late 1860's, when the country completely reformed its political and social structure by using European powers as models.
During the Meiji Restoration, Japan adopted a policy of breaking away from Asia and merging with Europe. It viewed China at that time as an antiquated and decaying country.
Its fear of China died with Japan's overwhelming victory in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894-1895). The defeat also obliterated China's first attempt to modernize.
Japan subsequently established its superiority over China, both in actual strength and in mentality, as it no longer viewed China as a teacher.
During its expansion, Japan forced China to cede Taiwan in 1895 and annexed the Korean Peninsula in 1910. In the early 1940s, Japanese aggression saw little resistance in Asia and reached its peak after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
Japanese militarists called for a "Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere" in the 1930s, attempting to create a bloc led by the Japanese and free of Western powers.
Although Japanese militarists and war criminals' pipe dreams ended with the country's unconditional surrender to Allied powers, Japan's sense of superiority continued due to the U.S. desire to contain the Soviet Union and China.
But 60 years after World War II, the situation has completely changed. China has maintained rapid economic development and in 2010 surpassed Japan to become the world's second-largest economy. The strength of China's national defense has grown accordingly.
Japan is now suffering from a long-term economic downturn, along with an aging population.
China's rise has touched the nerves of some Japanese, who have resorted to tricks to disturb China's peaceful development. This may be the cause of the tension experienced after a short friendly period in the 1980s.
The present China is not the same as the China of years past. Japan should face the situation, drop its obsolete sense of superiority and take a constructive attitude to solve disputes.
This is the only way to achieve common development in both countries and Asia as a whole.