China marked the 80th anniversary of the Nanjing Massacre at the hands of Japanese imperial forces with a call for the two Asian neighbors and rivals to "deepen" their longstanding, yet frayed relationship.
President Xi Jingping was on hand, but did not speak, during Wednesday's ceremony, which included a moment of silence and featured Chinese soldiers bearing large funeral wreaths in honor of the 300,000 victims they said died at the hands of Japanese troops during a six-week long rampage through what was then China's capital. A postwar tribunal eventually cut that to 200,000, but some Japanese officials have questioned whether the incident even took place.
The denials have angered Beijing for years, along with many of its Asian neighbors who feel Tokyo has yet to sufficiently atoned for war crimes carried out during its brutal occupation of the region during the first half of the 20th century, through the end of World War II.
Yu Zhengsheng, a former high-ranking member of China's top Communist leadership circle, said it was time for the two nations to repair the relationship and move forward in a spirit of friendship that could be passed on to future generations.