Rana Mitter: Chinas War with Japan 1937 1945



Online pub Chinas War with Japan 1937 1945 BY Rana Mitter – cafe1919.org

The Fourth AllyWith the surrender of Japan on August 14 1945 WW II came to an The Wee Free Men (Discworld, end leaving the Big Four of the United States Great Britain the USSR and China as the powers that would play a permanent and central role in the formation of the United Nations The war in Europe and in the Pacific has generated annormous literature The war between Japan and China and its place in the global conflict has received far less study China suffered nearly 20000000 deaths during WW II second only to the USSR Rana Mitter s new book Forgotten Ally China s World War II 1937 1945 helped fill many gaps in my understanding of both WW II and its aftermath The book offers an acesssible and balanced account of China s WW II centering on the Japanese invasion Mitter is professor of modern Chinese history at the University of OxfordMitter Kidnapped explains the purpose of his study in a brief PrologueIn thearly twenty first century China has taken a place on the global stage and seeks to convince the world that it is a responsible great power One way in which it has sought to prove its case is to remind people of a time past but not long past when China stood alongside the other progressive powers against fascism the Second World War If we wish to understand the role of China in today s global society we would do well to remind ourselves of the tragic titanic struggle which that country waged in the 1930s and 1940s not just for its own national dignity and survival but for the victory of all the Allies west and All Quiet on the Western Front east against some of the darkest forces that history hasver producedThe book recounts a highly complex history which involves China s struggles to become a republic the História do Rei Transparente early pre WW II war with Japan in the 1930 s the China Japan war during the years before Pearl Harbor the China Japan war in the context of WW II after Pearl Harbor and then the Civil War which resulted in thestablishment of the People s Republic of China Domestic affairs in China during the war years and the conflict between Chiang Kai shek and Mao Zedong receive substantial attention as wellThe first part of the book The Path to War offers an overview of the relationship between China and Japan and of China s attempt to Best Mechanic Ever establish a Republic beginning in 1911 Both Chiang and Mao come into prominence during thisarly period This part of the story culminates in 1931 with the Japanese invasion of Manchuria while the rest of the world took little actionThe second part of the story Disaster covers the arly years of the war which began in 1937 Among other things it focuses on the loss of Shangai the atrocities of Nanjing and Chaing s decision to breach the dikes on the Yellow River to slow Japan s advance into central China This decision resulted in an astounding loss of civilian life The book shows the wary attempts of Chiang and Mao to work together although both leaders markedly distrusted one another The Chinese nationalists under Chiang for all their faults freuently resisted the Japanese heroically and sometimes successfully during this periodThe third section of the book Resisting Alone reminded me of Britain s arly resistance as it shows China fighting a war without allies against Japan During this period a third prospective government in addition to the Nationalists and the Communists arose in China which advocated collaboration with Japan in order to reach a peace The collaborationist leaders were long regarded as traitors Mitter offers a nuanced viewThe final part of the book The Poisoned Alliance describes how China s allies tried to marginalize the China Japan war in favor of the European and Pacific theaters It focuses on the poisonous relationship between Chiang and American General Joseph Sitwell who was sent to China as Chiang s Chief of Staff following Pearl Harbor During this time Chiang and the Nationalists freuently were perceived as a reluctant corrupt ally which was unwilling to fight Mitter describes a severe famine in China which took place during the war years in part due to the Nationalist s incompentence and corruption He also describes the brutal police states that arose in the three rival Chinese governments under Chiang Mao and the collaborationists Again Mitter offers a nuanced portrayal of Chiang discussing both his many weaknesses as a civilian and military leader but also his strengths He reminds the reader throughout of the resistance the Chinese offered against the Japanese invasion for many years against long odds Mitter makes a convincing case that the Chinese resistance was integral to the result of the War as it allowed the Allies to concentrate their attention on the remaining theatersThe Epilogue to the book briefly describes the Civil War following WW II which culminated in Chiang s flight to Taiwan in 1949 The book discusses how the Chinese have been portraying their war history their internal history and their relationship with Japan in the years following Mao s ascendancyThis book has a great deal to teach about subjects that most Americans know only vaguely I learned a great deal from it and perhaps see some things differently than I did before reading it Teaching its readers is a worthy accomplishment for any bookRobin Friedman This book was both an In His Blood enlightening and a depressingxperience to read Desert Kings (Deathlands, enlightening because I learned much I did not know before of this phase of the W Read just about any popular history of World War II and you ll find any number of references to the Allies as the Big Three of Britain the US and the Soviet Union What s missing is recognition that China bore nearly as high a price as the USSR with anstimated fourteen to twenty million dead compared to fewer than half a million for the UK and the US The Soviet Union lost as many as twenty four million dead On that basis alone Oxford University historian Rana Mitter is justified in titling his revisionist history of China in World War II Forgotten Ally But as he An Officer and a Spy explains at length recognition of China s contribution to the warffort is overdue on a far broader basis than thatDueling myths and torrents of propagandaChina The English language bibliography of the Second World War is faced with an odd contradiction while there is no shortage of books about the conflict there are still not Exposed (Annika Bengtzon, enough of them This is because for all of the thousands of tomes weighing down the shelves of libraries and bookstores the majority of them are concentrated in a few key areas namely the war in Europe particularly in Western Europe and in the Pacific As a result English language readers have an often distorted view of the conflict one that ironically ignores its global natureAmong the fronts of the war that are under addressed none is so than the war in China To be fair there are good reasons for this such as the language difficulties and the challenges of archival access for some of the major governments involved in it The lack of attention is inexcusable neverthelessspecially since many historians have argued that the start of the war that consumed the world can be traced to China with the outbreak of fighting between units of the Japanese and Nationalist Chinese armies near Beijing in 1937 Because of this people are left with the duality of a lack of understanding about the origins of the most widely written about war in human history along with an an attending absence of awareness about the course of the fighting in that region and the impact on the postwar worldIt is for this reason why Rana Mitter s book is welcome His study of the war waged in China begins to fill the gap in our understanding by providing a broad survey of Ooko events that fits them within the context This book provides an overview of China s pivotal role in WWII and to thextent that readers are unfamiliar with that history it is a useful corrective But its true aims lie deeper it is unapologetically a revisionist history designed to rehabilitate the image of Chiang Kai shek and mphasize the role of the Nationalists in resisting the Japanese invasion In doing so the author also makes clear the relatively small contributions of the Communist forces and goes to great lengths to critiue the actions of Joseph Stilwell the Allies representative in China and a constant irritant to Chiang In the latter respect the book feels like a response to Barbara Tuchman s Stillwell and the American Experience in China a generally well regarded pro Stilwell biography that did much to lock in the unflattering image of Chiang for Western observers While I njoyed the book as a condensed review of China s role in the Second World War I felt that the author overreached in his goals I will say I gained a greater appreciation of the sacrifices by the Nationalist forces From this book it would seem that the Communists spent most of their Shadow Scale (Seraphina, energies regrouping during the war and positioning themselves for the inevitable power struggle to come a charge often aimed at the Nationalists The book also offers insights into some of the thinking of the Chinese participants in the collaboration government with the Japanese However I still harbor doubts about the uality of Chiang s leadership While he may have been the only person able to hold together China s fragile coalition of warlordsmerging business class and factional armed forces his political instincts appear to be his primary strength Forgotten Ally is still left to wrestle with his disastrous tactical decisions most glaringly. In Rana Mitter's tense moving and hugely important book the war between China and Japan one of the most important struggles of the Second World War at last gets the masterly history it deservesDifferent countries give different opening dates for the period of the Second World War but perhaps the most compelling is 1937 when the 'Marc.

review Chinas War with Japan 1937 1945

HiangIn Claim The Crown essence China held down some 600000 Japanese troops and that was important for the Allied warffort but it presupposes that this was always in the interests of the Chinese who died in huge numbers holding together a ramshackle strategy of mere survivalIt is noticeable that in the struggle against the last Japanese offensive like the last push of the Germans in 1918 Nationalist troops were attacked by Henan peasants who had suffered deliberate flooding and then famine fertile ground for communism laterThe second flaw is associated with the first Mittel devotes about the right amount of space to the Communists in Yan an but his coverage is still cursory and lacking in analysis His great lack is any serious investigation of Japanese thinking and Japanese motivesThis is highly problematic The book is about the Japanese war on China That means it is about both main participants and the whole war zone yet we hear virtually nothing of East China other than Nanking and little of Japanese collaborationist dealingsHe devotes a great deal of attention to the Petain of China Wang JIngwei and his circle but always in the light of them being implicitly honourable Nationalists who got it wrong This misses the point they were naive and useful idiots but there were important ideological and practical Japanese reasons for creating Vichy regimes across Asia and for nationalists to choose what they thought might be the lesser Nerds evil We get little sense of this Right or wrong what was actually happening in the huge area of East China under Japanese rule needs to bexplained in terms of Japanese conduct on the ground after the Rape of Nanking and of the motivations for Chinese collaborationism and resistanceBy the second half of the war just as the National Socialists could put national SS divisions into the field against the Soviets so there were substantial collaborationist Chinese troops fighting against the nationalists alongside the Japanese in the final offensive This has to be In the Shadow of the Crown (Queens of England, explained It cannot bexplained by giving Bark excessive coverage to the superior warlord s dealings with Washington and almost completely neglecting the dynamic between Tokyo and Nankingxcept in terms of the factional struggles of a few failed politiciansThe net On Such a Full Sea effect is that we have a book that does not take the detached and cold view of the struggle that we need to have in order to assist with the analysis of the twin issues noted at the beginning of this review Sino Japanese relations and the rise of new powersInstead what we have is anotherasy read for liberal internationalists that seems intended to guide them through the group think politics of their own side rather than assist in understanding complexity and think about the unthinkableIt is a morale booster that seems to say that the real China was only accidentally corrupt and incompetent and that if we the West had behaved in diferent ways and taken a flawed great man at face value things would have been better It is like a polemic for the pastHowever there is lot to learn from this book about Mao s genius for making inaction look like action about the cynicism of the Allies about the delusions of the Japanese Hello, Hippo! Goodbye, Bird! elite about the resilience and humanity of the Chinese people and about the chaos of warOne lesson is fascinating and well taught Under conditions of war and threat all three regimes in China turned to terror to try and hold power Mao s reined in his intellectuals and mobilised the peasantry with the help of the Yezhov trained Kang Sheng but he was not aloneChiang used the dedicated monster Dai Li with the close co operation of the Americans toliminate opposition to a regime that was really not much different from those targeted in Libya and Syria recently Chiang was not a democrat but an authoritarian militaristWang Jingwei hired politicised gangsters to do much the same in Nanking from a class which in Shanghai had helped Chiang himself on his road to power Even today it is clear that after seventy years of Communist totalitarianism South China s gangster culture thrivesAlthough the victor Mao adopted techniues later that taught Pol Pot and the Cannibal extremists in North Korea their techniues of terror and power thuggery arose on all sides out of warfare and whatever state might havemerged none would have had much truck with human rights This makes any attempt to make the less worse seem good rather futile Chiang murdered 800000 Chinese in a somewhat poorly thought out tactical attempt to slow down the Japanese by breaching the dams on the Yellow River No wonder the Henanese peasants were obstructiveAt the Mastered (The Enforcers, end of the day the whole debacle came down to an incident where a rising power thought that it had rights demonstrated by its imperialnemies in the Opium Wars and subseuently to use force to xtract concessions on spurious grounds against a weak targetThat the target was weak was definitely not the fault of Chiang Kai Shek He was dealt an appalling set of cards but given the realities of the situation his decisions tended to make things worse starting with his initial Night of the Long Knives against the RedsStill the book remains a valuable narrative introduction to one of the nastiest wars in an ra of nasty wars It left this reader with an abiding sense of solidarity with the Chinese people if not their leadershipsAbove all I have come to admire the achievement of China in not merely holding itself together but appearing to cohere into a Great Power that has managed through the construction of its own creation myth to bind together the East the Party and the nationalist impulse into oneThe nervousness of the West and the margin states of Japan South Korea and Taiwan and perhaps Vietnam and the Philippines as well is understandable but it may be that the US in particular is still not learning the lessons of the 1940sThe book reminds us of the fragility of the Communist achievement The European Union is now seeing old interwar attitudes re Alter Ego emerge in troubledconomies notably Spain and Eastern Europe and there is no reason why something similar might not happen in ChinaIn its hour of greatest need Free China needed unconditional love like the battered child it was but instead it got used as a tool and was patronised by its uals no wonder its successors are disinclined to trust anyone but their own instinct for tough love This book is published in two different titles 1 China s War with Japan 1937 1945 The Struggle for Survival and 2 Forgotten Ally China s World War II 1937 1945 This review is made with reference to the latterThe use of the first title conjures an impression of a chronicle recording the vents that took place in China between 1937 and 1945 In this the author has Uncommon Wisdom exceeded the promise of the title In fact to his credit Dr Mitterven went way back to the Sino Japanese War 1894 5 albeit briefly an Unseen City era commonly ignored by most scholars This reminder is important for two reasons First of all it was then that the Japanese began to station troops on the Asian mainland in Korea Second it became a base from which Japan fought the Russo Japanese War 1904 5 which really represented when the Japanese infringed upon China s territoryThe focus of the book however starts from 1937 after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident which started off as just another skirmish but took an unexpected turn when Chiang Kai shek decided that he would make a stand and opened another front in Shanghai From there the author took us through all the majorvents Art endingventually with Japan s surrender In between he culled documents and sources including diaries official party documents and reports from journalists to provide vivid details of the Nationalists feeble attempts to govern Free China their God Is in the Crowd efforts to undermine the Communists to draw any country into the war to help them and to manage the aftermath of the defection of important party members while fighting and initially retreating from city to city Eually vivid are the descriptions of how the civilians caught in the war suffered from poverty starvation rape and official corruptionBut if the first title reads rather blandly the second title Forgotten Ally proposes a thesis which the author made very clear China was the forgotten ally of the allied forces in the Second World War This powerful position can only come into consideration after Pearl Harbor when Japan in a span of two days made itself thenemy of at least four other countries the US Britain Australia and the Netherlands The word Ally therefore was only relevant in the later part of the book The main argument of the author is the Western powers are n A solid overview of the War of Resistance Ritter argues convincingly on why the Chinese Japanese deserves to be better known in the West but his Attracting Songbirds to Your Backyard exclusive attention to politics with no room to discuss battles or armies fails to hold my attentionif it s any comfort to Ritter sffort I already fully acknowledged the significance of 1931 1945 for the modern People s Republic of China In recent years the sheer scale of the war in China has become apparent What began on July 7 1937 as an unplanned local conflict between Chinese and Japanese troops near Beijing known as the Marco Polo Bridge Incident The Matriarchs (The Family escalated into an all out war between the two great nations of East Asia it would notnd until August 1945 In the Notes for the Everlost eight intervening years China s Nationalist government was forced into internalxile. Recreate this terrible conflict He writes both about the major leaders Chiang Kaishek Mao Zedong and Wang Jingwei and about the ordinary people swept up by terrible times Mitter puts at the heart of our understanding of the Second World War that it was Japan's failure to defeat China which was the key dynamic for what happened in As.

Breaching a dike to slow the Japanese army which resulted in the death of up to a half million people and likely only slightly delayed the army s march and the intentional burning of the city Changsha by retreating Nationalists although the Japanese wouldn t reach the city for years The book also acknowledges the When I Moan (Vassi and Seri 1: Russian Stepbrother Romance) endemic corruption that plagued the government and the failure of the Nationalists to adeuately address a devastating famine in one province that ultimately killed millions In passing the book acknowledges that during the civil war with the Communists Chiang was unable to achieve any notable military victories and severely misjudged the strength of his opposition a concession that seems to me to cast doubt on his abilities as a military leader Indeed the only Nationalist military victories against the Japanese proved fleeting Chiang s greatest asset may simply have been his stubborn resolve Moreover thextensive portions of the book focused on J Stilwell struck me as unjustifiably harsh The author lambastes Stilwell for abandoning Chinese troops as part of a failed campaign in Burma despite according to Tuchman s book that he did so under direct orders And the book ignores the fact that Stilwell remained in the area to No Biggy! ensure that retreating armies were supplied with rice and refused air transport in order to stay with 100 military and civilian refugees on a perilous march to safety Tuchman s book also provides needed context for Stilwell s defeat in which he was frustrated by fickle British support and reluctant Chinese participation Tuchman unuestionably had an anti Chiang bias As one point she notes that he had a dictator s instinct for balconies Forgotten Ally returns the favor for Stilwell after the defeat in Burma Stilwell told the press that they had taken a hell of a beating Yet the book leads in to that uote with the statement that Stilwell was never one to miss the opportunity for good press a peculiar jab given his unflattering candor While I have not gone back to Tuchman s book to review all of the points raised against Stilwell the description of the initial Burma defeat did much in my mind to cast doubt on Forgotten Ally s objectivity Ultimately I was not fully convinced by Forgotten Ally While Tuchman s book needs balance to fully credit the Nationalist s contributions I don t think that Forgotten Ally should be read in isolation Still the Japanese aggression in Asia the Allies shabby treatment of China during the war and the Nationalist s resistance are all critical for understanding China today and it is good that this book provides additional information onach This book gives a history of China covering mainly Crush It! events from 1937 when Japan invaded China The Japanese were in Manchukuo Manchuria prior but this was seen as being peripheral to China proper We are given the Chinese viewpoint on how western powers mainly England and the US and then the Japanese constantly treated China as a territory to bexploited Chinese sovereignty was hardly recognized by any outside power There are three main characters focused on Chiang Kai shek the leader of nationalist China Mao Zedong the leader of China s Communist Party and the rather Attracting Birds to Your Backyard enigmatic Wang Jingwei who was initially a Chinese nationalist revolutionary and follower of Sun Yat sen the father of modern Chinese nationalism but then in 1938 collaborated with the Japanese to try tostablish peace in China and I also feel to assume the reins of powerChiang was recognized by the outside world and the Japanese as being the ruler of unoccupied China The author is overly lenient in his treatment of Chiang His leadership of the military and the Chinese people was inept Corruption was rampant Chiang must be held responsible for this but the author hardly dwells on the implications of Chiang s nefarious years of power He defends Chiang by arguing that China was already a backward and Deep Listening exploited country which is true However in all his years at the helm the situation never got better in fact there was constant deterioration Chinese troops were paid little if at all and they were poorly fed some of their officers became rich andxploited the millions of poor peasants in the countryside Fighting the Japanese occupiers was sometimes just not a priority in Chiang s armies The communists by contrast were far better organized and at least had programs in place to alleviate the peasantsThe author does well to point out that Bird-by-Bird Gardening each group Chiang Mao and Wang Jingwei all had their own vicious police states None were interested instablishing a liberal democracy Wang Jingwei had little The Works of Saint Augustine effective say in this as he was a puppet of the Japanese Also Chiang faced much of the Japanese army than Mao did Mao in later years tended to overmphasize the impact the communists had in combating the JapaneseThe book provides us with the various stages of China s years of cruel occupation by Japan Western aid mostly from the US was insufficient and from other books like The Last Empress Madame Chiang Kai shek and the Birth of Modern Chinaa lot of money went into the coffers of corrupt Chinese officialsThe author points out how Chiang Kai shek was the only non European leaderif somewhat overlooked in the Allied coalition that was to become the UN We are also shown how the Japanese tried and partially succeeded in convincing the Chinese to Unbuttoning the CEO (The Suits Undone enter and collaborate into their vision of the Greater East Asia Co prosperity Sphere But to this day this is hardly discussed in China This is a useful but flawed account of an important theatre of war in the struggle of liberal internationalism Western imperialism and socialism against the attempted imperialisms of rising powersThe story has two contemporary sets of resonance the obvious one is the tricky current state of Sino Japanese relations that has Westerners rushing to books like this The less obvious is the attempt by the West to answer the uestion what to do with rising powers On the surface it is traditional narrative history It starts at the beginning what led up to the Marco Polo Bridge incident the Sarajevo ofight years of slaughter through to the surprise My Teacher Is a Robot ending the deusx machina of the Atom Bombs on Hiroshima and NagasakiWith the usual unconscious racism of the Western armchair liberal the debates on the use of the Bomb usually wonder about the dreadful morality of wiping out 100000 persons in a few days in terms of saved men and materiel for the WestA open view would throw into the pot the hundreds of thousands maybe millions of Chinese and Japanese lives saved from not going down the Nazi route of a year or two of mayhem as Japan fought to the Supper Club end despite its prospect of certain defeatBetween 8 million and 20 million variouslystimated died in those Moanas New Friend (Disney Moana) eight years with perhaps three to four million the victims of first the deliberate flooding of Henan and then its appalling famine Mitter also notes thestimated 3m who died in a similar Indian wartime famineThe whole business is another story of things getting out of control with millions being disrupted starved conscripted terrorised and murdered as a few big men suabble for advantage and for values that are often noble Professional Capital enough butually as often hypocriticalIt is a story played out almost continuously Seven Dwarfs Find a House (Disney Classic) even today Africa being the current playground for big men and psychopaths of all moral persuasions We should be pleased the rising thuggery of newmpires was suppressed but it was not a simple tale of good and vilThe flaws in the book however detract from its usefulness as analytical tool although the further reading at the back is useful for anyone wanting to delve deeperAbove all the book often reads like an unjustifiable apologia for Chiang Kai Shek warlord leader of the Nationalist Chinese with most claim to legitimacy as ruler of China It certainly spends time on the suabble with General Stilwell than a straight narrative deservesWhat is going on here The reality is that legitimate though he was Chiang Kai Shek was soon run out of town the core of China in the East and was not much than a superior warlord from an arlier The Middle Sin (Cleo North era He could speak for China and for millions of men but he had proved an unimaginative and narcissistic leader before the Marco Polo Bridge incident and was not much better after it Mitter justifiably contextualises his decisions but they were often than not poorMost of the non Communist warlords in the south marked time under his leadership but his control was limited while the Communists under Mao cannily created a state within a state in North West China that treated the peasantry as if they mattered instead of as fodderBy the time the Americans arrived and the Communists are almostxclusively seen through American yes by 19423 as Mittar swerves off into analyses of thinking in Washington Chiang s China was virtually being re colonised by the US by stealth without benefit to the peopleThe blunders of Stilwell and the Americans can be charitably put down to them learning on the job as they slowly displaced the British Empire as global arbiter US foreign policy does not really settle down into full competence until after the McCarthy blood letting Mitter s attempt to recover Chiang s reputation by pointing out the new status given to China in the UN holds little water Yes this was a fact on the ground and it portended great things a benefit that India failed to achieve but China was always a tool under O Polo Bridge Incident' plunged China and Japan into a conflict of xtraordinary duration and ferocity a war which would result in many millions of deaths and completely reshape East Asia in ways which we continue to confront today With great vividness and narrative drive Rana Mitter's new book draws on a huge range of new sources to.

RANA MITTER is a professor of modern Chinese history at the University of Oxford and the author of several books including A Bitter Revolution He is a regular contributor to British television and radio His writing has appeared in the Financial Times the Guardian and elsewhere