Admiration and apprehension go hand-in-hand when you look upon China’s rise as a global power and elevation as the second largest economy in the world. There is all-round admiration for its unprecedented economic growth—which has been at 10 per cent plus for three decades. There are also serious apprehensions among nations on what China’s rise means to Asia and the world at large. Will it be primarily a threat to its neighbours, as signalled by its assertiveness over the important sea lanes in the region? Or does China have the ability and desire to cooperate with other nations and share the responsibility in meeting some of the challenges the world faces?
Oxford historian Rana Mitter joins this debate with his new book, China’s War With Japan, 1937 to 1945: The Struggle for Survival. The eight-year-long war that an impoverished and poor China fought against Japan, one of the most militarised and technologically advanced nations of the time, was a phase of the Second World War that has often been forgotten. Much of the credit for reshaping the world has gone to the three victors—the US, Russia and Britain. But China, which acted as the fourth pole and played an extremely crucial role in wwii, is either ignored or seen as a sideshow in that effort. Yet, for China the war began two years before Britain and at least four years before the US entered it. China’s ability to tie down over 8,00,000 Japanese troops in the mainland at huge personal cost—the near-total destruction of its infrastructure, a death toll of over 14 million and the untold pain of millions of internal refugees spawned by it—played a crucial role in the ultimate victory of the Allied forces.
Through his lucid prose, forceful argument and material gained from archives that have begun to open in recent years, Mitter tells us the story of a war that played a significant role in making modern China. Mitter argues that a new history of China’s wartime experience must take into account of the three-way struggle for a modern China: the Nationalists, the Communists and the collaborationists under Wang Jingwei—a leader who was more prominent than either Chiang or Mao in his time. In the end, Chiang won the war but lost the country to Mao and his Communists, while Wang disappeared in the black hole of history as a traitor.
It is the story of a war that marked a vital step in China’s progression from “semi-colonised victim of global imperialism” to its entry on the world stage as a “sovereign power with wider regional and global responsibilities”. At the same time, the war also created conditions that shaped society and perceptions in ways that persist even to the present day, like the pathological Chinese fear of “disorder”.
Mitter’s strength lies in telling a compelling, comprehensive story that helps us understand China better, particularly at a time when it looms large on the global stage. As China seeks to convince the world that it is a responsible power, Mitter reminds us of the “tragic, titanic struggle” that the country had waged, not only for its dignity and survival but for the victory of the Allies against some of the “darkest forces that history has ever produced”.
The debate on China is unlikely to end any time soon and sceptics would continue to raise questions about its intentions and its rise. But for those willing to understand China better, this is a book that should not be ignored.
Modern China, as a Nation, also owes a lot to Sun Yat Sen ( Father of the Nation) prior to the emergence of Chiang Kai Shek and Mao Ze Dong.
People don't actually comprehend, what their expressions purport. What seems to be meaning in the review is that Japan was one of the most contemporary industralized and politically modern nations when she emerged, because of an urgent necessity, and the necessity was seen to be able to be addressed by a modern economy alone, when the state is a multi-faceted entity. Japan was a nation, where the people were seeing themselves in their own industrial revolution, and the political leadership were absolving responsibility, and as the modern nation is the controller of the military, but separate from the leadership of the command, the army was also looking at a certain situation. The army saw that the political was not wanting to be in reference to the events in China and Korea. The press was free in practice, and supposed to be censored. The political faction did not want to censor the press, but was expressing it was. Since the press saw the military as more relevant to leadership, the military was eulogised, and the political consideration lampooned.
The contemporary industrial outlook, was perhaps a cynical attempt to keep the British and the American disinterested in Japan, and Japan didn't know that industrialization needs great resources to function, and Japan didn't need the resources that were needed before industrialization, as much as after.
It might be, that since industrialization was introduced, thereafter the effect of perceived poverty was more acute in Asia, particularly South Asia and South East Asia, in the past. That didn't change the fact, that resources might be allocated in concentrated amounts, to many sectors and this might need resource allocation to be re-allocated.
Any discussion of the War in China btw 1937-1945 is utterly dishonest, if there is no mention about the "Rape of Nanking" incident.
The Rape of Nanking is the most horrible mass sexual assault incident where thousands of Japanese armed forces sexually assaulted uncountable number of civilian chinese females.
Journalists in India who are dishonest and perverted and have no sense of responsibility react to any rape incident/news by trying to potray how a indian male is historically a rapist or person of evildom. What about this incident?japan Incidentally has been a part buddhist culturally and the buddhism did not stop the men from being beasts . Why?
Incidentally, japan in 2013 has highest female life expectancy in world. How? Maybe journalists must stop branding all people of a nation or group as some evil force and see the issues on ground - like law and order etc.
The Chinese and the Koreans were seen as the reason that Japan was insecure. The Emperor of China did not rule, as industrialization had made the civil service obsolete. The various warlords controlled various parts of China, and did as they pleased. The people in Korea were blamed for the reason that Europe and Chinese interests were engaging the Japanese in naval 'adventurism'. The warlords were ruling in the name of the emperor, but were supplying the business interests of others, and were in war with each other, within China. People like those in Nanking, were seen to be like livestock, who were working for the interests of the warlord, and the worlord was engaging Japan in naval engagement, because the warlord felt, according to Japan, that there was nothing better to do. Fighting each other, made the warlords gain in importance, and the peasants didn't see anything important in the fighting, and like the citizens in London were seen to be supplanting the guns and aircraft of the British war economy, against the Axis, and experienced the Blitz, the peasants at Nanking were seen to be supplanting the war for the concerned faction, without wanting to.
The U. S. was seen to not want to engage in any war, ironically, and wanted to be isolationist before the second world war. But, she was somehow, it was felt, helping the warlords in their engagement, and covertly. The Japanese saw their energy supplies being influenced, due to the U. S., and the U. S. helping and arming the warlord, if they did, and in covert actions and operations.
i doubt if china ever featured in the plan of the allies or vice versa. the chinese were simply fighting for survival against the invaders - to care anything about ww2. and they were themselves under the rule of an invader (manchu). and a civil war was raging in their land between two powerful warlords - mao and chiang kai shek. they would have been happy if the japanese had left them alone and gone on to europe instead.
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