Forgotten Ally: China's World War II

Forgotten Ally: China's World War II

In October 1937 the Nationalist government of China had announced that it could no longer defend the existing capital at Nanjing to the east against a Japanese invasion that had begun three months earlier. Chongqing therefore became the temporary capital.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 94-96. Accessed: 3/25/2017

If China was considered at all, it was as a minor player, a bit-part actor in a war where the United States, Soviet Union, and Britain played much more significant roles. Yet China was the first country to face the onslaught of the Axis Powers in 1937, two years before Britain and France, and four years before the United States. And after Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941), one American goal was to “keep China in the war.” By holding down large numbers of Japanese troops on the mainland, China was an important part of the overall Allied strategy. China had much less ability to make its own decisions than the other Allies because it was so much weaker than they, both economically and politically. Yet the war still marked a vital step in China’s progression from semi-colonized victim of global imperialism to its entry, however tentative, on the world stage as a sovereign power with wider regional and global responsibilities.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 161-167. Accessed: 3/25/2017

In the end, Chiang won the war, but lost his country. For Chiang’s great rival, Mao Zedong, chairman of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the war against Japan was the making of a leader. When the war broke out, he was the head of a small party on the run that had been forced into a hideout in the dusty hill country of northwest China. By the end of the war, he would control vast areas of China with its population of some 100 million people, as well as an independent army of nearly a million men.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 196-199. Accessed: 3/25/2017

China’s most fraught international relationship is still with Japan, and the war remains central to the present friction between them. Even for generations born many years after 1945, Chinese nationalist pride is shaped by anger at Japan’s invasion of their country.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 220-222. Accessed: 3/25/2017

In recent years Chinese youths have continued to express anger at Japan: many of them feel that the country has never apologized fully for its actions in China during the war. Anti-Japanese resentment can flare up suddenly, and seemingly without immediate cause.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 226-227. Accessed: 3/25/2017

After 1949, in the newly formed People’s Republic of China (PRC), on the other hand, official histories were quickly revised to attribute the victory over Japan to the “leading role” of the Chinese Communist Party. The role of Nationalists was dismissed: it was stated that the wartime government had been more obsessed with fighting the Communists than the Japanese, and was anyway badly run, corrupt, and exploitative of the Chinese people. Scholars in Taiwan, where the Nationalists had fled after 1949, did argue against this view, but in turn their views were often perceived as suspect because they were produced under a dictatorship ruled by Chiang Kai-shek, who was still concerned to rescue his tarnished reputation. Furthermore, archives from the wartime period on the mainland were closed to scholars. As a result, the nuances required for an understanding of the period never emerged. Instead of tragedy, the war in China was painted as melodrama, with villains and heroes cast in black and white. All sides became convinced that the war was an embarrassing period, irrelevant to the supposed glories of Mao’s New China, but also of no interest to the West, which sought to forge a peaceful postwar world. Few wished to recall a depressing period that seemed to mark a low point in China’s long modern history of disasters.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 276-285. Accessed: 3/25/2017

China’s war with Japan also repays reexamination because wartime conditions shaped society in ways that have persisted even to the present day. Constant air raids made it imperative that people should live and work in the same spot, as it was dangerous to move around; after 1949, “work units” would impose a similar system across China which would not be dismantled until the 1990s. Chinese society became more militarized, categorized, and bureaucratized during the harsh years of war, when government struggled to keep some kind of order in the midst of chaos. These tendencies, along with an almost pathological fear of “disorder,” continue to shape the official Chinese mind-set. The greater demands that the state made on society in wartime also created a reverse effect: society began to demand more from government. The war saw extensive experiments in welfare provision for refugees, as well as improvements in health and hygiene. Other societies at war, notably Britain, found that they had to promise a welfare state to repay the population for the suffering it had endured during the war. But in the end, the Nationalists had created demands that only the Communists would be able to satisfy.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 324-332. Accessed: 3/25/2017

It was into this vulnerable, post-Taiping China that Chiang Kai-shek was born in 1887. Chiang remained an enigma even to many of his closest associates for the whole of his life. He was stubborn, manipulative, and callous, but also had firm commitments coming from his experience as a Bible-reading Confucian firmly committed to revolutionary anti-imperialism. From his earliest years, he was seized by the conviction that China must be reunited, and that the power of foreign imperialism must be eradicated from its territory. All his military and political life was spent in pursuit of this goal. But his tactics could lead him to adopt intricate and often deceptive strategies: Chiang was a master at playing off his colleagues against one another. Chiang, observed one British journalist in the 1930s, “has never hesitated to forgive his enemies . . . or to betray his friends.”11 Born to a family of salt merchants near Ningbo, in Zhejiang province, the prosperous central coastal area around the Yangtze delta, Chiang received an education which was highly traditional in many ways, and learned the values of the Confucian system of thought, including ideas of propriety, righteousness, and shame. But he would also be shaped by a very new institution in the early twentieth century, the military academy. In addition he would be China’s first leader to have experience of the outside world: a youthful visit to the newly formed Soviet Russia shaped a lifetime of visceral hatred for communism, and a Japanese military academy gave him insights into the enemy he would face one day. During the Second World War itself, his visits to India and Egypt would shape his conviction that a postwar China must fight imperialism and stand tall among the family of nations. Li Zongren, an ally with whom Chiang would have a turbulent relationship, confirmed that he had one key quality for leadership: “he loved to make decisions.”

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 468-482. Accessed: 3/26/2017

In the Soviet view, China was too backward for a socialist revolution. Instead, a “national bourgeois” party, the Nationalists, should carry out the first revolution. Sun agreed, content to ally with Russia, believing that alone among Western nations she had shown “benevolence and justice.”2 To show his commitment, he sent a delegation of Nationalist representatives to Russia, Chiang Kai-shek among them. Being tapped by Sun raised the young officer’s prestige greatly within the party, and was a sign that he was a rising star. Chiang met many prominent Bolsheviks, including Trotsky, but was not overly impressed, calling them “conceited and autocratic.”3 Chiang’s sour memories of Moscow and the political system he saw forming there would come to shape his views when he returned home.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 681-687. Accessed: 3/27/2017

The new alliance changed the fate of the Chinese Communist Party. During the first couple of years of the party’s history, it was a tiny and marginal political grouping (as well as being officially illegal). It made grand claims about fomenting a revolution among urban workers, Bolshevik-style, but in reality it had little prospect of doing so. Cooperation between Sun and the Soviets gave the CCP a crucial opportunity to expand. On Soviet advice, many Communists also joined the Nationalists, forming the United Front, making the two parties hard to distinguish during this period. The alliance made sense ideologically for Sun as well. His political philosophy, which he termed the “Three People’s Principles,” consisted of democracy, nationalism, and the idea of “people’s livelihood,” a vague social welfarism that was sometimes rendered as “socialism” in English. He was not a Communist, but he and the Soviets had enough in common to make the alliance useful for both sides. Sun’s prestige was also enough to calm the more conservative elements in the Nationalist Party who were wary of the Bolsheviks.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 687-695. Accessed: 3/27/2017

Revolutionary politics were forged on a small island in Guangzhou (Canton) Harbor. The nerve center was the Whampoa (Huangpu) military academy, where the Soviets tutored China’s revolutionaries. For both the Nationalists and Communists, the experience of working with the Soviets between 1923 and 1927 on the National Revolutionary Army (NRA) was crucial. Wang Jingwei worked in the political education department of the academy, and alongside him was a rising star of the CCP, Zhou Enlai (later to become China’s premier under Mao). On the military side, Chiang Kai-shek rose rapidly in the officer corps as his organizational skills became better known and better valued, along with his comrade from his Japan days, He Yingqin. Also at the Academy were Hu Zongnan and Xue Yue, both of whom would provide crucial military service to Chiang during the war years.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 695-701. Accessed: 3/27/2017

Throughout his life, Mao was shaped by early violent disagreements with his father, a conservative, well-off peasant farmer; their clashes eventually drove Mao to leave home and to take up political journalism. Mao was also shaped by romantic ideas of heroism drawn from the traditional Chinese classics, including tales of adventure such as Outlaws of the Marsh and The Romance of the Three Kingdoms. He was always driven by the idea of a strong China, but unlike Chiang, he demanded a complete overturning of “heaven and earth”: nothing less than a complete social as well as political revolution would serve his purposes.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 713-718. Accessed: 3/27/2017

But in fact the greatest victims of the capture of Shanghai were not the foreigners (who were anyway mostly safe in the concession areas), but the Communists. They had infiltrated much of the city, awaiting the joyous moment when the NRA would arrive. What they did not know was that Chiang had used his secret society contacts with the Green Gang, the largest criminal outfit in the city, to have all known Communists rounded up and murdered. Many thousands were massacred in the space of a few days; some were kidnapped and tortured first. In later years, Chen Lifu, one of Chiang’s close associates, would admit, “It was a bloodthirsty way to eliminate the enemy within. I must admit many innocent people were killed.”14 The killings put a sudden end to the alliance between the Nationalists and Communists. Chiang was in power, and had formally established himself as the ruler of a Nationalist government, but his victory was stained with the blood of his former allies.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 777-784. Accessed: 3/27/2017

Henry Luce, founder of Time magazine, was born in China, and his magazines would prove a vital source of propaganda in favor of Chiang Kai-shek during the war with Japan. Pearl Buck was the daughter of Southern Baptist missionaries, and wife of the agronomist and missionary John Lossing Buck. She lived in China through much of the Nationalist era, and wrote novels that made her one of the most popular authors in America. Books such as The Good Earth (1931) and Dragon Seed (1942) told the stories of peasants fighting poverty and banditry to secure a better life. The Good Earth reaped the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 and then, in 1938, Pearl Buck won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 831-836. Accessed: 3/27/2017

Still, Chiang’s regime at Nanjing had major flaws. The government abused human rights on a significant scale, regularly arresting or assassinating political dissidents, reserving particular venom for Communists. The Nationalist Party structure also became highly corrupt, particularly at local levels where officials used tax collection as a means of extorting all sorts of unauthorized extra payments from farmers. The government’s greatest failing—and one that gave the Communists a superb opportunity—was its failure to deal with the desperate poverty of the country’s rural regions. The Nationalists’ power lay in large part in its ties to wealthier elites, who had a vested interest in economic relationships not changing, whether in factories in the city or throughout the vast countryside.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 909-914. Accessed: 3/28/2017

By 1927 things were very different. Chiang was clearly the leading force in the Nationalist Party, and he and Song Meiling courted for over a year. He fulfilled the two conditions she set him by obtaining a divorce from his previous wife, and by agreeing to study the Bible and consider converting to Christianity. They married on December 1, and from that point she became Chiang Kai-shek’s face to the Western world. Diplomats frequently noted that if they met the “Gissimo” (Generalissimo), they would frequently meet the “Missimo” as well; the British diplomat Robert Howe noted early on in the war years that “it is a difficult matter to gather a definite impression from a Chinese of Chiang Kai-shek’s stamp who is slow to make up his mind . . . Madame Chiang Kai-shek . . . is of a more volatile temperament.”7 Song Meiling’s views were shaped by her cosmopolitan background, and she was able to give a wider picture of the West to Chiang (who had never been further west than Moscow). At her wedding, she had bowed down before a portrait of Sun Yat-sen. She would go on to play a significant part in the greatest test that Sun’s Republic would endure. Song Meiling’s brother, T. V. Soong (Song Ziwen), also became a major figure in the government. Harvard-educated, and fluent in English, Soong’s great talent was raising revenues, which he did for several years as minister of finance (1928–1931, 1932–1933). “T. V.” was well known and liked by Western diplomats and financiers of the age. He was relatively liberal, which helped to keep channels open to the United States. Another of Chiang’s brothers-in-law, H. H. Kung (Kong Xiangxi), also played a crucial role in the financial affairs of the government. Kung believed himself a 75th-generation descendant of Confucius, but his influence derived from a twentieth-century connection, his marriage to Song Ailing, the sister of Song Meiling. From 1933 to 1945 Kung served as governor of the Bank of China, as well as finance minister for most of that same period, taking over in the latter role from T. V. Soong. Kung, unlike Soong, was not well regarded in political or public circles, and was frequently accused of being the richest—as well as the most corrupt—man in China. Song Meiling had one other sister, Qingling (Song Chingling), who had married into the finest revolutionary pedigree possible, first as the wife and then widow of Sun Yat-sen.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 955-972. Accessed: 3/29/2017

A crucial conclusion was that China’s geography made it vulnerable in the event of a major war, because the vast majority of the country’s infrastructure was on the east coast, the area most likely to be invaded. Plans were drawn up for the state to ensure sufficient supplies of iron, coal, and chemicals should war break out. There needed to be more production in the interior of China: iron and steel in Hunan, copper and iron in Sichuan, and coal mines in south and southwest China.15 The seeds of the planned economy that would mark Mao’s China were sown by Chiang’s government, stimulated by the Japanese threat.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 1064-1068. Accessed: 3/29/2017

They finally reached Zhenjiang (Chinkiang), 219 kilometers northwest of Shanghai, on November 22, and managed to fight their way onto a British steamer, after an air raid had interrupted boarding. The group of refugees were sprayed with water to prevent the crowd rushing forward (“we were as wet as ducks”), but they were still lucky, as they did at least manage to board: “Thousands who were left on the pontoon were in despair and many got aboard by throwing away all of their possessions and even children.”

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 1844-1848. Accessed: 4/1/2017

More than nine out of ten Chinese at the time lived in rural areas, following a way of life that had changed only gradually over hundreds of years, focused on religious rituals, agriculture for subsistence and sale, and ever-continuing struggles against taxation or other requirements of the state. Chiang’s plans for resistance centered on the idea of a unified national effort, but the circumstances of war seemed to be destroying everything that had defined the Chinese sense of shared stability and community.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 1868-1871. Accessed: 4/1/2017

Another historical comparison also stands out. Both the Long March and the move upriver were retreats in the face of a stronger enemy. But the Long March was carried out by a party, the Communists, that would finally come to rule all China, and as a result, their retreat became a world-famous legend. The equally wrenching retreat to Chongqing, associated with Chiang Kai-shek, was wiped out of the official memory.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 2043-2046. Accessed: 4/1/2017

Yet the war also provided an opportunity for successful mobilization of society at a level that had not previously seemed possible in China. From this point on, mass mobilization would become the norm. The endless campaigns in Maoist China, from the public humiliation and killing of landlords in the land-reform campaign of the 1950s to the ritual public torture of teachers and doctors in the Cultural Revolution, had their roots in practices forged in wartime, turning the indifferent and unsure in society into true believers.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 2083-2087. Accessed: 4/1/2017

After the battle, Li Zongren asked Sheng if he had picked up any souvenirs on the battlefield. Sheng replied that he had found love letters on the corpses of Japanese soldiers, as well as the photograph of a girl (perhaps a hometown sweetheart) marked “19 years old, February 1938.”19 These sentiments stood in contrast to news coverage in which the Japanese were portrayed only as demons, devils, and “dwarf bandits.”

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 2677-2681. Accessed: 4/4/2017

Chiang made his decision. He gave orders to General Wei Rulin to blow up the dike that held the Yellow River in place in central Henan. There was no doubt about what this meant. Floods would inundate much of central China, turning it into a vast expanse of water and mud, and the Japanese advance would be forcibly stopped. However, to make this strategy work, it had to be done fast. Nor could the government give any public warning, in case the Japanese found out and accelerated their advance.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 2807-2810. Accessed: 4/4/2017

Chiang’s government had committed one of the grossest acts of violence against its own people, and he knew that the publicity could be a damaging blow to its reputation. He decided to divert blame by announcing that the dike had been broken, but blaming the breach on Japanese aerial bombing. The Japanese, in turn, fiercely denied having bombed the dikes. White’s reporting reflected the immediate response of most foreigners; having heard about the atrocities at Nanjing and Xuzhou, he was disinclined to give the Japanese the benefit of the doubt. Furthermore, at the very time that the Yellow River was flooding central China, the Japanese were heavily bombing the city of Guangzhou (Canton) in the south, causing thousands of casualties. To White, the Japanese counterargument—that the Chinese themselves were responsible—seemed unthinkable: “These accusations, foreign observers thought, were absurd. For the Chinese to check the Japanese advance at possible sacrifice of half a million lives would be a monstrous pyrrhic victory. Besides, dike-cutting is the blackest of Chinese crimes, and the Chinese Army would hardly risk universal censure for slight tactical gains.”11 But, of course, that is exactly what they had done.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 2854-2863. Accessed: 4/4/2017

Eventually some 54,000 square kilometers of central China were inundated by the floods. If the Japanese had committed such an act, it would have been remembered as the prime atrocity of the war, dwarfing even the Nanjing Massacre or the Chongqing air raids in terms of the number of people who suffered. Accurate statistics were impossible to obtain in the midst of wartime chaos and disaster, but in 1948 figures issued by the Nationalists themselves suggested enormous casualties. For the three affected provinces of Henan, Anhui, and Jiangsu, the number of dead was put at 844,489, with some 4.8 million becoming refugees. More recent studies place the numbers lower, but still estimate the dead at around 500,000, and 3 million–5 million refugees.13 In contrast, the devastating May 1939 air raids on Chongqing killed some thousands.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 2866-2872. Accessed: 4/4/2017

In the dark days of October 1938, fifteen months after war had broken out, one fact remained constant. Repeatedly, observers (Chinese businessmen, British diplomats, Japanese generals) had predicted that each new disaster must surely see the end of Chinese resistance and a swift surrender, or at least a negotiated solution in which the government would have to accept yet harsher conditions from Tokyo. But even after the defenders had been forced from Shanghai, from Nanjing, and from Wuhan, despite the terrifying might that Japan had brought to bear on the Chinese resistance, and despite the invader’s manpower, technology, and economic resources, China was still fighting. Yet it was fighting alone.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 2976-2980. Accessed: 4/4/2017

The writer Lao She recalled the experience of smoking local cigarettes made with inferior tobacco:   The first puff gave off yellow exhalation—I thought that it was a firework! But I didn’t hear an explosion, so I kept smoking. After four or five exhalations, I saw mosquitoes fleeing, so I was very happy. Smokable and drives away insects—truly valuable!

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 3044-3047. Accessed: 4/4/2017

Chongqing’s population had soared as refugees poured into Free China: a city of nearly 474,000 people in 1937 had expanded to over 700,000 by 1941 and would rise to some 1.05 million by the end of the war.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 3073-3074. Accessed: 4/4/2017

Chiang’s wife Song Meiling addressed the problem in 1937 by recruiting one of the more remarkable figures to work in wartime China: retired US Air Force Major General Claire Lee Chennault. A strong advocate of airpower, Chennault took over the training of China’s still minimal air force (the official number of 600 aircraft was probably an exaggeration). As well as giving combat training to the small cadre of Chinese pilots, Chennault also recruited pilots from the US who might be better able to take on Japanese fighters. The group was officially known as the American Volunteer Group (AVG), but it soon became much better known by its nickname, the “Flying Tigers.” The group was a real morale-booster for the beleaguered capital, even though the Tigers never actually flew in combat over its skies. But the real significance of Chennault’s presence and views would not be made clear for several more years.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 3133-3139. Accessed: 4/4/2017

The Communist armies numbered some 30,000 men at the start of the war, and during August and September they were reorganized as the Eighth Route Army, made up of three divisions which quickly expanded to around 80,000 troops. Not long afterward, the Communists were authorized to establish a second force of up to 12,000 men known as the New Fourth Army, which would operate in central China.48 At least a third of the Communist forces would not fight the Japanese directly, but be retained at the base areas (by implication, to defend them against the Nationalists).

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 3352-3356. Accessed: 4/7/2017

To the ends of their lives, Zhou and the man he served, Wang Jingwei, saw themselves as the truest patriots. Faced with the prospect of the physical destruction of China by the Japanese assault, or else the establishment of a Communist China under Soviet control, Wang’s group considered the negotiation of a just peace as the only realistic solution to the crisis of war. They were fueled by a genuine ideological enthusiasm that made them keener on a pan-Asianist future than on an alliance with Britain or America, powers whose imperialist behavior in China hardly made them preferable to the Japanese.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 3685-3689. Accessed: 4/7/2017

Wang won concessions on only one issue. The Japanese wanted the symbol of his new regime to be the flag with five colored bars that had been used in the early years of the republic (and was used by the collaborator Wang Kemin’s “Provisional” government in north China, which Wang Jingwei despised). Wang was adamant; the correct flag for his regime would be the flag of the Nationalist government, as endorsed by Sun Yat-sen: a white twelve-pointed star on a blue background, and a red field. After all, Wang considered his regime the continuation of the true Nationalist government, now that Chiang had betrayed the cause by allying with the Communists. Adoption of the flag would fulfil Wang’s dream that he had nurtured for thirteen years, since Chiang Kai-shek had maneuvered him out of power during the Northern Expedition, namely, finally to complete the revolutionary destiny of Sun Yat-sen.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 3850-3856. Accessed: 4/8/2017

Chiang’s actions did not suggest a genuine willingness to negotiate with the Japanese for a harsh peace settlement. He made it very clear that he would continue to resist Japan, even in the darkest days of 1940, when China, like Britain, came closest to collapse. He gave the impression of dancing close to the edge of cooperation with Japan, but never took steps that would send him directly over the precipice. The threat of a Japanese takeover of China frightened the Allied powers, and Chiang knew he desperately needed to draw them in. For not only were his armies and regime on the brink of disaster, with little prospect of external assistance.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 3976-3981. Accessed: 4/8/2017

Chiang’s advocacy of the Principles, he argued, was little more than an attempt to preserve the economic status quo and downgrade the importance of communism. Mao proposed a “New Three People’s Principles,” espousing a Communist program much more openly. Requirements included an alliance with the USSR, to be given priority over unity with the imperialist powers; cooperation with the Communist Party; and assistance to the peasants and workers. Yet although these principles were explicitly proposed in opposition to the Nationalists, Mao took care to confirm that they were “a development of the old Three People’s Principles, a great contribution of Mr. Sun Yat-sen.”

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 4103-4108. Accessed: 4/8/2017

On December 1, the imperial conference made the decision to go to war; the next day, the date was set for the attack to take place on December 8 (December 7, US time). In the early morning of December 7, 1941, the US Pacific Fleet was anchored at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Two waves of Japanese bomber aircraft, launched from six aircraft carriers, attacked the vessels and their sleeping crews, destroying the battleship Arizona outright and damaging seventeen others, as well as most of the military aircraft parked nearby. Some 2,400 Americans died, and another 1,100 were wounded. Within a day Japanese invasion forces had attacked Siam (then an independent state), Malaya, and the Philippines.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 4225-4230. Accessed: 4/8/2017

White’s disputes with Luce ultimately led him to resign from Time. In the book he published after the end of the war, Thunder out of China, White could make his indictment of Chiang clear. White described the horror that famine had wrought in one of his most memorable images: “A girl no more than seventeen, slim and pretty, lay upon the damp earth, her lips blue with death.” White again recounted his journey through Henan, complete with callous officials and starving peasants, and concluded, “We knew that there was a fury, as cold and relentless as death itself, in the bosom of the peasants of Honan - Henan.”23 At the time he published this, he knew what he could not have known for certain in 1943: that within a year the peasants would have their revenge on the state that had extorted so much from them, and whose negligence had led to the deaths of some 4 million people.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 4847-4854. Accessed: 5/10/2017

Not that the Communists were above supplementing their income in more dubious ways: there is good evidence that they were also producing opium in the base area, strictly for export to the Nationalist and Japanese zones.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 5004-5005. Accessed: 5/10/2017

Ever since they had arrived at Yan’an, leftist thinkers and writers found themselves torn between their loyalty to their hoped-for revolution and the party they admired, and their convictions that as artists they must be true to their own visions.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 5257-5259. Accessed: 5/11/2017

Mao’s words marked a severe change of mood in Yan’an. Not only was it much harder for people to enter the region, but it also became very difficult to leave.37 The city was cut off from the outside world not only by enemy blockade, but also by a new hardness of the party line. An earlier atmosphere of openness and collective enterprise gave way to a much more all-or-nothing environment. Ideas of pluralism and “new democracy” were replaced by a turn toward party control.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 5271-5275. Accessed: 5/12/2017

When the Cultural Revolution broke out in 1966, many outside observers found the phenomenon of the Red Guards, who persecuted and tortured their class enemies, inexplicable. But a quarter century earlier the Rectification Movement had provided a clear blueprint. It marked the moment when Mao’s China came into being. It was not immediately obvious because the outside world was hardly focused on what was happening in the blockaded northwest region where the Communists were based. Yet the signs of the state that would become the People’s Republic of China less than a decade later were there. What had been a radical opposition party was now unmistakably a party of government, with millions of people under its rule. The “Yan’an Way” policies that balanced land reform and progressive taxation would be part of the early years of the PRC. So, too, would the terror tactics. Enemies of the people would be publicly humiliated, beaten, or killed by their new masters.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 5299-5306. Accessed: 5/12/2017

At the same time, each of the three regimes operating in wartime China had its own interpretation of what terror meant and how it should be implemented. For Li Shiqun and Ding Mocun, control of the streets and personal aggrandizement were much more of a priority than any ideological commitment. Dai Li’s motive was less venal. While he loved power and was clearly a sadist, he was driven by a loyalty to Chiang Kai-shek, whom he regarded as the keystone preventing China’s collapse. Yet Dai’s desire to create a corps of agents who would act as the regime’s terrifying but incorruptible eyes and ears was crippled by the dishonesty and violence that characterized so many in the MSB. The public saw the agents not as ideological stalwarts, but as weak men given power to exercise for their own benefit. The Communist terror of Kang Sheng was different. The purpose of Rectification was not to line anyone’s pockets. Rather, it envisioned—and achieved—one clear aim: it would bring together radicalized ideology, wartime isolation, and fear to create a new system of political power. The war against Japan was giving birth to Mao’s China.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 5314-5322. Accessed: 5/12/2017

Chiang declared his intention to press home several points at Cairo, including the establishment of a formal United Nations structure to give China equal status in the emergent international order, and the need for naval and air support in any future attempt to recapture Burma.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 5543-5545. Accessed: 5/13/2017

Stilwell was also convinced that the Communists must be brought more fully into the conflict and that they had an understanding of Chinese society that the Nationalists lacked. Although a Republican at home, Stilwell’s disgust at Chiang’s regime led him away from his usual political tendencies. “He can’t see that the mass of Chinese people welcome the Reds,” Stilwell wrote, “as being the only visible hope of relief from crushing taxation, the abuses of the Army, and Tai Li - Dai Li’s Gestapo.”

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 5982-5985. Accessed: 5/13/2017

Gauss, who was much less starry-eyed about the CCP than Stilwell and Service were, passed on Service’s enthusiastic accounts faithfully to Washington, but added a rider in which he cautioned against taking the CCP’s assessment of its own contributions too literally. “Recent Chinese Communist claims of military achievements against Japan seem to have been exaggerated,” Gauss cautioned. He acknowledged that the Communists had “unquestionably” set up valuable sites of resistance in north China, and also contained “some” Japanese troops in north and central China:   They appear to have avoided meeting the Japanese in frontal clashes, confining themselves in the main to occasional attacks against small elements of the enemy. In reviewing the battles of the past seven years in China, it would seem safe to say that Communist participation has been on a relatively minor scale. The Communists have fought no battles comparable in scope and intensity to those of the Shanghai, Hsuchow - Xuzhou, Hankow - Wuhan, and Changsha campaigns; and their claims to the contrary notwithstanding, they appear to have contained but a minor proportion of the Japanese military forces operating in China.54

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6056-6065. Accessed: 5/13/2017

Stilwell had gotten his road and his revenge. Yet it would be December before the legacy of his obsessive project finally came to fruition. The Ledo Road from Assam had been connected to the Burma Road at Lashio, allowing supplies to move overland again from India to China. In the month of July 1945 some 5,900 tons of supplies were moved along the road. But by this stage the amounts of freight carried on the Hump flights dwarfed what the road could carry.63 Had the war lasted longer, of course, the road might have played a more significant role. The Ledo Road was renamed the Stilwell Road by Chiang Kai-shek, ostensibly as a tribute to the American’s determination in having it built, but perhaps with the implication that such a folly should bear the name of its author. By the time the road was any use, Stilwell himself had met a fate that he could not foresee as he fought in the jungles of Burma in the sweltering summer of 1944.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6104-6110. Accessed: 5/13/2017

The road is known as Stilwell’s to this day. Huang Yaowu, just sixteen years old, gave a thought to those whose names would never be remembered. “I was very upset about my comrades who had sacrificed themselves. They had all come from Guangdong, and now they were no more.” He continued: “War is like this. Victory is hard to achieve, and once they are sacrificed, they are not even buried, because the advancing troops have no time to do it. Their bodies will be eaten by insects in half a day, and their families will never be notified or compensated.”

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6110-6114. Accessed: 5/13/2017

Huang’s blood brothers, with whom he swore that oath in the mountains, and whose bones still lie in the forests of north Burma, might at least have hoped that their deaths would be remembered by a grateful country. But fate had dealt them one more cruel blow. They had fought with the Nationalist Sixth Army, not the Communist Eighth Route or New Fourth Army, and within a few years they would be written out of the record in Mao’s China. “Really, later history has forgotten them,” Huang admitted many years later. “In my heart, they are martyrs who died for the motherland. They died for a good cause. But who remembers them now?”

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6114-6119. Accessed: 5/13/2017

In private, Chiang contemplated taking a very bold step. “If it’s necessary at last,” he wrote, “I should prepare to resign my military and political positions.” To do so would force the Americans’ hand. “Roosevelt thinks I can’t and don’t want to resign, so he oppresses me without any concern . . . He wants to use Chinese troops to make war, otherwise he’d have to send over a million American troops to East Asia to sacrifice themselves.” Chiang mulled over the possible responses to the pressure that he felt Roosevelt was placing on him. At this point some 27,739 US troops were stationed in China, of whom 17,723 were Army Air Force troops.4 Roosevelt might take the opportunity to brush Chiang aside. On the other hand, it was possible that his “resignation might be a disadvantage to the US war effort against Japan, so they would have to change their attitude toward me,” and cease to insult Chiang and China. Or the US might sit by while a “puppet” such as Sun Fo was placed in office. Then, as the military and political situation worsened, the Americans would call on Chiang again, as “they would have no choice but me,” and would deal with him with a new sincerity.5 Two days later, Chiang decided that resignation was not an option: “it’s too dangerous for the country.” He reflected on the many problems that might flow from his departure, from Sun Fo’s supposed closeness to the USSR to the threat of provincial militarists uniting with the CCP and the Japanese against the National Government, and the CCP contaminating the nation’s youth and education system with their thinking.6

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6137-6150. Accessed: 5/13/2017

The delivery of Roosevelt’s note was a watershed. For this short moment of satisfaction, Stilwell would pay a very heavy price. US-China relations for the next quarter century would pay an even heavier one. Arguably they are still paying some of that price today.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6197-6199. Accessed: 5/13/2017

Chiang showed no emotion when Stilwell presented him with the letter, but once he was alone with his brother-in-law T. V. Soong, he burst into tears, and raged that the letter was the product of Stilwell’s actions. It was a fair accusation, since Roosevelt and Marshall had believed Stilwell’s implication that it had been Chiang’s refusal of support that had worsened the Burma situation.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6199-6202. Accessed: 5/13/2017

Stilwell gloated, sending his wife a letter containing a five-verse piece of doggerel. The first stanza gives the flavor of the acid whole:   I have waited long for vengeance— At last I’ve had my chance I’ve looked the Peanut in the eye And kicked him in the pants.16

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6205-6209. Accessed: 5/13/2017

When Stilwell had proposed just such an offensive in the summer of 1944, and Chiang had demurred, Stilwell had suggested that “China would be suspected of wishing to withhold any real contribution to the Allied cause.” So Chiang had in the end consented, letting troops trained at Ramgarh in Bihar province, eastern Burma, be used in the campaign for the Ledo Road. Stilwell had then demanded that more Chinese reserves be sent into Burma, and had commandeered Hump tonnage to use there. In Chiang’s view, these actions had a direct consequence: “the Japanese took advantage of the opportunity thus offered to launch an offensive within China attacking first in Honan i.e., Henan and then in Hunan.” The Burma campaign had sucked away both men and supplies. Stilwell had displayed “complete indifference,” despite the fact that the Nationalist armies in east China faced six times the number of forces that Stilwell had to cope with in Burma. Chiang’s most pointed accusation was that Stilwell had refused to release Lend-Lease supplies even when they were readily available in Yunnan. Chiang argued that only a minuscule number of arms had been released for China’s use: “60 mountain guns, 320 antitank rifles, and 506 bazookas.” As a result, he declared, “we have taken Myitkyina, but we have lost almost all of east China, and in this, General Stilwell cannot be absolved of grave responsibility.” Chiang went on to express dismay at the implications of the message from Roosevelt that Stilwell had rudely delivered. He rejected the idea that China was in danger of fundamental collapse, and found it objectionable that Roosevelt should suggest withdrawal of aid from China precisely because it was in trouble. Hurley forwarded the note with his own, blunt comment: “Chiang Kai-shek and Stilwell are fundamentally incompatible. Today you are confronted with a choice between Chiang Kai-shek and Stilwell.” Adding that there was no other Chinese leader who could offer what Chiang could, it was clear what choice he thought Roosevelt should make.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6273-6287. Accessed: 5/13/2017

Hurley was known for his careless mangling of Chinese names, at first referring to the generalissimo as “Mr. Shek” and the Communist leader as “Moose Dung.” Hurley had excessive confidence in Chiang’s ability to unite China, and did not understand that the Communists were serious contenders for power. And understanding this immensely complex and delicate political situation was now critical to avoiding a civil war between the Nationalists and Communists.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6363-6366. Accessed: 5/13/2017

Chiang was worried about the intentions of the CCP, and with good reason. The waning of his power had been matched by a steady growth in Mao’s. With party membership of over a million people, and some 900,000 regular troops supplemented by a similar number of militia troops, the Communists would clearly be a major force in the postwar order. Yet at this point, all Chinese parties assumed that the war against Japan would continue for at least one or two more years. This created a dilemma for Mao as to how best to orient his party toward the new world. The Communists had to be seen to support the war effort against Japan. To move openly against Chiang would rob them of the moral high ground from which they could accuse him of emphasizing the fight against the Communists over the war against Japan. (This accusation remained powerful even though Nationalist troops were fighting the Japanese in both the Ichigô assault and in Burma, and the CCP had contributed to neither of these campaigns.) On the other hand, Mao was determined that “this time, we must take over China.”9 The party debated how far it could exploit the opportunities afforded by Ichigô. With the Nationalists on the back foot, and the Japanese close to exhaustion, might there be an opportunity for the Communists to place themselves in a better position for the postwar conflict, now surely just a year or so away? Mao advocated caution, noting that “our party is not yet sufficiently strong, not yet sufficiently united or consolidated,” a warning that the party should not try to occupy areas where its power was not completely assured. It still expanded cautiously into areas where the Nationalists had retreated, although implementation of its social policies was patchy.10

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6366-6379. Accessed: 5/13/2017

In death he finally achieved what he had tried to do in life: he was reunited with Sun Yat-sen. A huge new mausoleum was built on top of the Purple and Gold Mountain just outside Nanjing, and Wang’s body was laid to rest just a short distance away from the last resting place of his old political master. Wang’s political journey had seen him move huge distances both politically—from radical revolutionary to collaborator with the Japanese—and geographically—from Nanjing to Europe, Chongqing to Hanoi to Nanjing again, and then Japan before coming to rest once more in Nanjing.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6431-6435. Accessed: 5/13/2017

Davies expressed dismay that Chiang’s regime was talking to the collaborators. He would have been even more aghast if he had known of another set of even more confidential meetings in the spring of 1945. There is intriguing though still incomplete evidence that the Communists were engaged in talks with the Japanese at a small village in Jiangsu province, in anticipation of a land campaign in eastern China in the coming year. The Japanese proposed that they would not stand in the way of the Communist New Fourth Army or the 700,000-odd troops still under the control of the Nanjing regime, instead concentrating their fire on the Nationalists. It is hard to know how far these talks would have gone. As with Chiang, talking to the Japanese did not equate to surrendering to them, and the CCP should be given the benefit of the doubt as genuine anti-imperialists. Yet the Communists were, like the Nationalists and Wang’s regime, keen to make the most of a changing and unpredictable situation.25

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6453-6460. Accessed: 5/13/2017

Mao’s confidence was fueled, in part, by a conviction that the entry of the Soviet Union into the war would tilt the balance of power toward the CCP. But the Communist leader underestimated the protean pragmatism of Joseph Stalin. During the Yalta discussions, Roosevelt had ceded to Stalin a restoration of the rights in East Asia that Russia had lost after the 1904–1905 Russo-Japanese War. But Roosevelt secured an assurance that the USSR would not actively support the Communists against the Nationalists. Roosevelt told Chiang about this condition, but Stalin did not tell Mao.32 The Communist leader was unaware of Stalin’s betrayal.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6506-6511. Accessed: 5/13/2017

The war had forced the Nationalists to redefine their mission in the unfamiliar territory of the far southwest. And as he tasted the moment of victory, Chiang Kai-shek looked out over ruin both foreign and domestic. So many people had died: bombed, slaughtered in Japanese war crimes, drowned, starved, or killed in combat. Even now, the numbers are not clear, but some 14 million to 20 million Chinese seem to have perished during the eight years of conflict. The relationship with the US had become bitter, poisoned by the Stilwell fiasco. American disillusionment with the Chongqing government was fueled by the wreck of the regime that ruled China. The nation had grand visions, but the reality was mass hunger, official corruption, and a brutal security state that tried in vain to suppress the aspirations of a people who had been exhorted to develop a sense of national identity and now demanded a state that matched their new sense of themselves. There was a widespread feeling within the country of change abroad. China could not avoid it. And what seemed deeply ironic was that a triumphant Mao Zedong might now reap the fruits of Chiang Kai-shek’s victory.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6668-6676. Accessed: 5/13/2017

Over the next few months, Marshall’s mission became an exercise in frustration. Neither side was genuinely willing to compromise. The Nationalists refused to allow the Communists to run a parallel military and political organization within their territory. The Communists baulked at the idea of handing over their autonomous military power to an ill-defined Nationalist structure. Both sides agreed to an armistice on January 10, 1946, yet Marshall found it impossible to get them to settle on the next steps.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6718-6721. Accessed: 5/13/2017

When Wang Jingwei had died in Nagoya in November 1944, his body had been shipped back to China and interred beside that of his revolutionary comrade Sun Yat-sen. On his return to Nanjing, Chiang made it a first item of business to destroy this symbol in the most final form possible: he gave orders to use high explosives to blow up Wang Jingwei’s tomb. Chen Gongbo, who had become the head of the Reorganized Nationalist government after Wang’s death, was tried and executed in the spring of 1946.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6734-6737. Accessed: 5/13/2017

In China itself discussion of the history of the wartime years was even more restricted. Mao’s China had no place for any description of the Nationalists except as enemies who did little to defend China against Japan and had rightly been routed in 1949. All credit for leading the Chinese people in the “war of resistance against Japan” went to the CCP alone, and more specifically to Mao himself.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6827-6830. Accessed: 5/13/2017

Many aspects of Chinese society and culture seemed to reflect changes that had happened during the war. Military service had habituated the Chinese to more collective ways of living, as had the trend toward living and working in the same place to avoid being caught traveling during bombings. More than that, the atmosphere of political mobilization that the war had brought about remained a constant in Chinese life. From the Aid Korea Resist America Campaign during the Korean War (1950–1953) to the Great Leap Forward (1958–1961), Chinese life was characterized by constant campaigns. In the latter case, the drive to increase economic growth gave rise to a horrific famine that killed some 20 million people or more. Yet of all Maoist China’s campaigns, the most intense was the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s. Ostensibly, the great upheaval of the Cultural Revolution, when Mao declared war on his own party, had little to do with the legacy of the Sino-Japanese War. But two of the cities where the fighting would be fiercest—with tanks in the streets—were Chongqing and Chengdu.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6839-6847. Accessed: 5/13/2017

As in China, historical memory of the war in Japan itself has been complicated. One version of events, often heard in China and sometimes in the West, is that Japan has simply refused to acknowledge its own war crimes. This view is too simple. It is true that there was and is a vocal right wing in Japan that downplays or denies wartime atrocities. The Japanese conservative mainstream is also often too quick to dismiss the enormity of Japanese crimes. Japan has also pointed to its sad distinction as the only country ever to have been attacked with atomic weapons to make a case for itself as a “peace nation”—but often with little context or explanation given for the events that led to the dropping of two atomic bombs.24 However, it is also true that there is a wide and lively public sphere in Japan which examines and in no way excuses the Japanese war record in China and elsewhere. The Japanese left, notably the journalist Honda Katsuichi, was instrumental in forcing their own country to re-examine the Nanjing Massacre in the 1970s, long before the issue was brought back to the public gaze in the West or China. Although there have been attempts in Japanese schools to introduce “revisionist” textbooks that minimize Japanese atrocities in China, they have not been widely adopted within the school system.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6882-6892. Accessed: 5/13/2017

In more recent years Nationalist soldiers may not have been persecuted, but instead they were being ignored as they died off. In 2010 Cui Yongyuan, one of China’s best-known television hosts, gave an interview in which he talked at length about his rediscovery of the Nationalist role in the war. As a child he had seen films that implied that the Nationalists had collaborated with the Japanese, and it was only as an adult that he gained a greater understanding of their role when he toured a battlefield with a Nationalist veteran who showed Cui where his comrades had fallen. “This was perhaps the first time that I had met a Nationalist soldier,” Cui recalled. “I really began to feel respect for them.” Cui interviewed over a hundred Nationalist veterans in Yunnan province. He suggested that individual stories were the best way to explain the complexities of the war, whether it was occasions when the locals had pointed out members of the Eighth Route Army to the Japanese rather than hiding them, or occasions when even collaborators might have shown some conscience. “Memoirs from collaborators give a variety of self-justifications,” he observed, “but it’s not always as simple as betraying your country. There were even some collaborators who did what they did as a version of the war of resistance, trading space for time.”28 The unquiet spirits of the war against Japan were beginning to rise, some seventy years after laying down their swords—or their lives.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6921-6931. Accessed: 5/13/2017

The American role is now seen as part of a global war effort. The British have come to acknowledge the massive contribution of the empire and commonwealth in underpinning their decision to continue fighting. The Soviet Union’s great resistance, costing some 20 million lives, now stands central to the understanding of the Allied war effort. China remains the forgotten ally, its contribution only slowly being remembered as its experience fades out of living memory. Its involvement in the war was not as harrowing as that of the Soviet Union, which was engaged in a struggle to the death, a fight about race and power. But the suffering endured by China was still unimaginably great: the war against Japan left 15 million to 20 million dead, and 80 million to 100 million refugees. The flawed but real economic development that the Nationalists had begun in 1928 was destroyed. For eight years brutal death was an everyday possibility for ordinary Chinese, whether from the swords in Nanjing or the bombs dropping on Chongqing, or even the dams, destroyed in desperation by their own government.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6955-6962. Accessed: 5/13/2017

The Chinese Nationalists and Communists were the only two major political groupings in East Asia to maintain a consistent opposition to the Japanese Empire through the whole period from 1937 to 1945. The Nationalists maintained some 4 million troops in China through the war, helping to tie down some half a million or more Japanese soldiers who could otherwise have been transferred elsewhere. The Communists maintained a guerrilla campaign that prevented the Japanese from gaining control of large parts of northern China, tying down troops and resources.

Rana Mitter, Forgotten Ally: China's World War II, 1937-1945. Kindle Edition. loc. 6964-6968. Accessed: 5/14/2017