Chinese President Xi commemorated the start of the eight-year War of Resistance against Japan at an anniversary event that was larger than ever this year to highlight Japan's wartime atrocities.
Although the Chinese head of state avoided mentioning Japan or Abe by name, he said there are "still a small number of people who ignore the iron facts of history."
"The Chinese people, who made great sacrifices, will steadfastly guard history, which is written with our lives and blood. We firmly take the path of peaceful development, and we hope all the nations in the world will also walk the path of peaceful development."
The Chinese government marks the event every year, but on this day, 77 years later, the commemoration ceremony was more extensive than ever.
The event was carried live on China's state television CCTV, Xinhua Online and many other media outlets in the nation.
This year's event is significant not only for its scale, but also for the live broadcast and the presence of the president, underscoring its importance.
The anniversary comes amid escalating regional tensions and a territorial dispute between the two countries.
On July 7th, 1937, the armies of China and Japan engaged in a battle that now marks the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
That battle is known as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident.
Chinese defenders were attacked, civilians were slaughtered by gunfire, bombs and biological weapons, forced laborers died and women were raped.
The large-scale anniversary event comes as China has already started releasing from its State Archives written confessions by Japanese war criminals every day for a total of 45 days.
One such confession says the Imperial Japanese army kidnapped 20 women from Korea and China and forced them into prostitution for its troops.
Although Beijing has long accused Japan of denying its wartime atrocities, experts say that expanding the scale of this year's anniversary event is a move directed at the Japanese government as a way to force it to face its history.
Shin Se-min, Arirang News.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has responded to President Xi's criticisms, saying Beijing does nothing to promote peace and cooperation in Northeast Asia.
He added Tokyo would be keeping tabs on China's own approach toward historical matters.