China marks Nanjing Massacre anniversary but Xi silent

A survivor cries during a memorial ceremony at the Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders ahead of China’s National Memorial Day for Nanjing massacre victims in Nanjing city, east China’s Jiangsu province on December 4, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 13 December 2017
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China marks Nanjing Massacre anniversary but Xi silent

BEIJING: China marked the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre on Wednesday with a call to work with Japan for peace, but President Xi Jinping kept a low profile and left the public remarks to another senior official.
China and Japan have long sparred over their painful history. China consistently reminds its people of the 1937 massacre in which it says Japanese troops killed 300,000 people in its then capital.
A postwar Allied tribunal put the death toll at 142,000, but some conservative Japanese politicians and scholars deny a massacre took place at all.
Ties between China and Japan, the world’s second- and third-largest economies, have been plagued by a long-running territorial dispute over a cluster of East China Sea islets and suspicion in China about efforts by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to amend Japan’s pacifist constitution.
However the two countries have sought to get relations back on track, and Abe and Xi met last month on the sidelines of a regional summit in Vietnam.
Speaking at a memorial in the eastern city of Nanjing, Yu Zhengsheng, who heads a high profile but largely ceremonial advisory body to China’s parliament, said China and Japan were neighbors with deep historic ties.
China will deepen relations with all its neighbors, including Japan, on the basis of amity, sincerity and friendship, Yu said, in comments carried live on state television.
“China and Japan must act on the basis of both their people’s basic interests, correctly grasp the broad direction of peaceful and friendly cooperation, take history as a mirror, face the future and pass on friendship down the generations,” Yu said.
A somber Xi, wearing a white flower in his lapel to symbolize mourning, stood in the audience but did not speak.
Doves to signify peace flew overhead once Yu finished speaking.
It was the second time Xi has attended the event since as the country marked its first national memorial day for the massacre in 2014. At that time he did speak, calling on China and Japan to set aside hatred and not allow the minority who led Japan to war to affect relations now.


Pakistan's leading political party faces jolt

Updated 47 min 54 sec ago
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Pakistan's leading political party faces jolt

  • Former PM Nawaz Sharif may not be able to spearhead PML-N's election campaign
  • The three-time premier is a crowd-puller and could help the beleaguered PML-N, but only “if he returns to Pakistan and leads the election campaign,” political analyst Tahir Malik told Arab News on Sunday

ISLAMABAD: The electoral success of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) hangs in the balance as its most charismatic leader, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is outside the country and may not lead his party’s campaign ahead of the July 25 polls, analysts say.
“If Sharif doesn’t return from London to Pakistan by next week, his party may face huge losses in the upcoming elections,” political analyst Tahir Malik told Arab News on Sunday.
The three-time premier is a crowd-puller and could help the beleaguered PML-N, but only “if he returns to Pakistan and leads the election campaign,” Malik said.
Sharif is in London visiting his wife Begum Kalsoom Nawaz, who has been on a ventilator since June 14 and has been undergoing treatment for throat cancer since August 2017.
“Do you think it is appropriate for me to return to Pakistan when Begum Kalsoom is fighting for life?” Sharif asked on Saturday.
He said he had planned a four-day trip to London, but is now unsure about returning to Pakistan due to her health. Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz have been in the UK since June 15.
“The Sharif family is passing through a difficult time, and the situation could adversely impact their party’s electoral prospects,” Malik said.
An accountability court hearing three separate corruption references against Sharif, Nawaz and others is scheduled to conclude the trial by July 9, as per the Supreme Court’s instructions.
In July 2017, the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from holding the prime minister’s office, and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file corruption references against him and his family members.
“Even after being disqualified from holding any public office, Sharif still enjoys public support,” political analyst Rasul Bukhsh Rais told Arab News.
But if the accountability court convicts Sharif in the graft cases before the elections, this would demoralize his party and PML-N voters, Rais said.
His younger brother, who has become the party’s president after Sharif’s disqualification, “may not be able to run an effective election campaign,” Rais added.
Sen. Mushahidullah Khan, the PML-N’s information secretary, said Sharif and his daughter will return to Pakistan to lead the party’s election campaign once his wife’s health improves.
“Our detractors will be disappointed. The PML-N will win a clear majority in the elections under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif,” Khan told Arab News.