China restrained its criticism of Japan on the 81st anniversary Thursday of the Nanjing massacre of Chinese civilians and others by Japanese soldiers, following improved bilateral ties.

Unlike last year, President Xi Jinping skipped an annual commemorative ceremony held on the 1937 incident at a museum in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province.

China in 2014 designated Dec. 13 as a day of national mourning over the incident. It has held memorial services to boost patriotism among the Chinese people and highlight Japan’s role as a perpetrator.

Speaking at this year’s ceremony, Wang Chen, vice chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, claimed that 300,000 Chinese people suffered great misery in the incident.

Meanwhile, Wang noted that this year marks the 40th anniversary of a peace and friendship treaty between Japan and China.

The development of a stable bilateral relationship serves the interests of both countries and will have a significant impact on the region and the world, he added.

The city of Nanjing requires citizens to observe a moment of silence Thursday at the time of the ceremony, under an ordinance.

In China, some people have come under fire for pictures showing them dressed in the uniforms of the now-defunct Imperial Japanese Army at battle sites and other locations.

Such actions are likely to be subject to crackdowns as acts that impair the dignity of the nation and the people.

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