China says wants Taiwan to participate in commemoration of end of World War II

BEIJING (Reuters) - China wants Taiwan to participate in commemorations later this year to mark the end of World War II, and also plans events commemorating the end of Japanese rule over the island, a Chinese government spokesman said on Wednesday.

Chinese President Xi Jinping will oversee a military parade, reception and evening gala for the war anniversary, which is likely to be marked in September, and will invite leaders from major participants in the war, the foreign ministry has said though it has not said who.

After World War II, Chinese communists and nationalists resumed a civil war that ended when nationalist forces withdrew to Taiwan in 1949. Though ruled separately, China claims Taiwan as its own, and has never renounced the use of force to bring it under its rule.

Ms Fan Liqing, spokesman for China's Taiwan Affairs Office, said victory in the war was a victory for "the entire nation". "We welcome Taiwan compatriots to participate in memorial activities, and hope people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait can always remember history, cherish the memory of martyrs and rally together through war victory activities," she told reporters.

China will also hold a series of events this year to mark the end of Japanese colonial rule over Taiwan, Ms Fan added, without providing details.

While China's ruling Communist Party never misses an opportunity to remind people of its struggle against the Japanese, a lot of the fighting was actually done by the forces of Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist government.

Chiang's government had already assumed control in Taiwan in 1945 when the Japanese left, four years before his administration fled there after loosing the civil war.

While the two have signed a series of landmark trade and economic deals since the China-friendly Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou assumed the role in 2008, there are still deep political and military suspicions, especially in proudly democratic Taiwan.

Japan's rule in Taiwan is seen by some as having been good for the development and governance the Japanese bought. Perceptions of Japan in other parts of Asia, particularly in China and Korea, are often deeply negative.

Nationalist Chinese rule post-1945 is thought of less positively by many Taiwanese, because of the long period of martial law it ushered in.