Outbreak of war and Nanjing massacre  

After Japans invasion of Manchuria and annexing into Manchukuo areas of Inner Mongolia Japan didn’t stop. It was becoming more and more eager of Chinese territories and resources. Japan was expelled from League of Nations as its aggression in foreign policy was on rise.  Japan was more and more allying with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy because of their revisionist aims. Japanese ultra nationalist and militant ideology of that time wasn’t much different than those of Nazism and Fascism. Japan already controlled Chinese Taiwan( occupied in 1895), Chinese Diaoyu islands( since 1895), Korea( since 1910) , a lot of Russian islands( since 1905) and Chinese Manchuria( since 1931). But Japan was aiming for more- it wanted more of Chinese territories, Russian territories primarily and Pacific islands. It wanted dominance in Asia and Pacific. Japanese aggression on China was in 1937 but it became part of WWII when it started in 1939. Japan entered WWII in 1941.

lugou bridge incident
Lugou bridge incident

Border tensions between 1932 and 1937 were frequent and intensive. In northeastern China there were often border clashes between Chinese KMT and Japanese troops. In January 1932 Chinese people in Shanghai entered incident with Japanese army stationed for protection of Japanese legations. After that incident Japan pushed China to demilitarize Shanghai. Also Red Army was organizing guerilla attacks in Japanese occupied Inner Mongolia. ROC didn’t want to enter war against Japan despite constant pressure because Chiang Kai Shek was more interested in fighting against communist forces. He was literally forced to conclude alliance with Red Army as mentioned in previous post. Everything escalated on 7th July 1937. Japan was slowly occupying areas around Beijing and Tianjin. Reaction of NRA was zero even when they captured important railway in Fengtai near Beijing. But on 7th July after midnight Japanese patrol nearby Lugou ( Marco Polo Bridge) Bridge in Beijing suburbs was stopped by Chinese patrol. They wanted to enter Wanping but were prevented and verbal conflict escalated in gunfire. Incident resulted in several hundred deaths on both sides and Japanese were prevented to enter town.

japs enter beijing
Japanese troops enter Beijing

But Japanese artillery started shelling of Wanping. Chiang Kai Shek was avoiding war at a cost for balancing against communists what is considered again as his betrayal of China. Few other KMT generals and CCP pushed ROC government to finally stand for dignity, territory and Chinese people and fight back Japanese aggression. This has escalated in large battles for Beijing and Tianjin which finished by Japanese occupation of these two cities. Japanese and Mongolian puppet troops captured more areas of Inner Mongolia as well. After this KMT until 1938 was in big retreats in northern China while in other areas it was fighting more. It was again seen often as Chiangs move to destabilize communists and let them fight alone. On the north large battle between 8 Route Army of CCP and Japanese troops occurred. It happened on 25th September at Pingxingguan and ended in Japanese defeat and partial stagnation of invasion. Japanese air force was bombing major Chinese cities very brutally with many civilian casualties. In August 1937 when Japan ordered KMT troops to withdraw from suburbs of Shanghai they rejected and it led to Japanese invasion of Shanghai. Battle of Shanghai was conducted by KMT and some CCP fighters as well under separate command. Bombing, shelling, infantry and naval attacks occurred in Shanghai.  Shanghai was sieged for about 2 months what led to causing suffering of civilians with lack of supplies. Japanese army was much more modern and Chinese troops were isolated. Despite that Chinese deployed 700 000 soldiers and Japanese 300 000 Japanese army was better equipped. Even when defender of Shanghai KMT officer was sympathizer of CCP it wasn’t enough to prevent fall of Shanghai. Chinese troops fought bitterly on the streets of Shanghai but by end of November Shanghai fell. Hundreds of thousands of Chinese fighters and civilians were killed. Japan didn’t respect any conventional warfare causing great damage to civilian objects, killing, torturing and raping civilians. Nothing was spared in Shanghai except foreign legations and concessions. But Japanese forces expelled foreign concessions and legations in 1941 when it entered war with USA, UK and France. Until 1941 Japan was respecting foreign concessions and legations in China in general. Captured and wounded Chinese soldiers were shot or beheaded by Japanese too.

Next was Nanjing. On 1st December Japanese forces started invasion of ROC capital Nanjing. Nanjing was left poorly defended after KMT withdrew a lot of troops. It left there 100 000 soldiers against 150 000 better equipped Japanese soldiers. Nanjing was bombed severely for months already. Only in 2 weeks Nanjing already heavily damaged was captured. Between 13th December 1937 and beginning of January 1938 occurred one of biggest war crimes not only in China or in WWII but in history of humanity. It is often compared to holocaust. It is known as Nanjing Massacre – a systematized mass murdering, massacring, mutilating and raping of Nanjing civilians and POWs. For only few weeks 300 000 people were brutally massacred. It is considered that 20 000 women and children were raped. Simply, nobody was spared who was found by Japanese forces. People were shot, beheaded or buried alive. Japanese troops were competing who will kill more people using swords only. Property was intentionally destroyed too. Corpses of people were lying anywhere on ground. Many corpses were burnt or thrown into Yangtze river. Nanjing massacre still remains a most tragic event and humiliation of Chinese people in recent history. It is commemorated every year and it is one of core points of Chinese national identity and basis for patriotism and unification.

Public beheading, http://imgur.com/gallery/ZTCL4
Japanese soldier bayonets baby, http://www.politicsforum.org/forum/viewtopic.php?t=156417


Chinese Prisoners Being Buried Alive
Live Burial http://world.time.com/2012/12/13/the-nanjing-massacre-scenes-from-a-hideous-slaughter-75-years-ago/photo/chinese-prisoners-being-buried-alive/

After Nanjing massacre Japan expected Chinese capitulation but war was far from an end.  Japan settled its occupation now in vast territories of northeastern, eastern and southern parts of China. Almost all Chinese coast was controlled by Japan as it needed the coast the most. There stayed  two separate centers of resistance against Japanese invasion. One was CCP and another KMT which proclaimed fight in name of ROC. Both entities were in official alliance named Second United Front  until 1941 which was de facto zero without any cooperation. Soon Japanese imperial army established a Nanjing puppet government which fought on side of Japanese.


Killed children Nanjing, http://ahrp.org/1937-the-rape-of-nanking-nanjing/



CCP was stationed in Yanan and controlled most of Shaanxi province. It was major base of their power during WWII. They considered this anti Japanese and resistance war as it is in name of the people. In 1937 they deployed two large armies- New Fourth Army and 8 Route Army. Those 2 armies had aim to fight on front against Japanese forces. By 1940 they counted about 700 000 soldiers.  Other forces and majority of CCP force was aimed on guerilla warfare. Mao Zedong and other CCP leadership understood very well that Japanese army is much more powerful and that rational warfare and guerilla tactics are necessary for survival and successful fight. Except that CCP leadership knew that from untrained masses of people it would be deadly to send them to fight directly against more powerful force but instead of that they were sent in guerilla operations. CCP fought war in name of people and took care of economic reforms and peasant rights and care of family of fighters while they were far from home. CCP fought in name of people and their social rights. CCP was more decisive in fight than KMT and defined it in public and among people as top priority to fight invader while KMT was remaining indecisive a lot.  These were reasons why CCP was more successful in combating Japanese and why it got biggest popularity among people what led to communist victory in 1949.  Simply such tactic assured fight while preserving increasing resources in terms of people and weapons and it resulted in good trust among people.

1940 occupied areas
Situation in 1940
guerilla ccp
Communist guerilla, http://cpcchina.chinadaily.com.cn/2011-08/22/content_13915616_8.htm

Lets review first how guerilla warfare was conducted by CCP.  In total between 1937 and 1945 large network of guerilla units was built which conducted 20 000 guerilla attacks on vast Chinese countryside.  Various attacks and ambushes drastically hardened Japanese control of northeastern and eastern Chinese occupied territories. Almost whenever when their troops got out of cities or bases they were attacked. CCP attacked and detonated rails, military trains, military convoys, bases and patrols. Red Army guerillas in smaller units were successfully cutting communication and destroying infrastructure used by Japanese forces and Nanjing puppet forces. Tanks, trucks and airfields were target as well. Thanks to that Japanese troops had poor control of areas out of cities in northeastern and eastern areas of occupied territories. By constant diversions they were preventing many Japanese advancements in occupying more territories.  Red Army successfully was attacking and destroying warehouses and ammo and fuel supplies of Japanese army. It was capturing a lot of Japanese weaponry and used it against occupier. Red Army guerillas on countryside often were hiding in plains and mountains and often had shelter among people in villages. There were thousands of guerilla units secretly operating on occupied territories constantly sabotaging and interrupting Japanese activities. Guerilla operatives are considered as core for delaying Japanese movements in occupied territories and in further invasions of Chinese territories. They managed to recruit even more people there in name of Chinese nation, communism, equality, unconditional battle against intruder, liberation and unification. Chinese partisans are seen together with Soviet and Yugoslav partisans as most effective guerilla forces of WWII.  Japanese came very close to Yanan a main headquarters of CCP but because of effective combination of guerilla and later conventional warfare of Red Army it was never captured. Guerilla warfare of CCP seen as major one which united Chinese people against Japanese occupation and later united them in unification of China.

8 route army
8 Route Army of CCP, http://cpcchina.chinadaily.com.cn/2011-08/22/content_13915616_8.htm

Between January and June 1938 Japanese forces launched attacks on Henan and on Yellow River. Both Red Army and KMT fought there against Japanese but were defeated. In May 1938 as part of this campaign Red Army and KMT together defeated Japanese forces at Lanfeng. Aim of Japanese forces was to further advance into Chinese territory. On northern areas this was quite impossible because of guerilla tactics but here they tried to enter through central and southern China. Between June and October large battle of Wuhan in Hubei province occurred. Both 8 Route and New 4th Army and KMT forces participated as well. Japanese forces used aircrafts, tanks, artillery and infantry while Red Army and NRA used infantry, artillery, tanks and little aircrafts. Wuhan experienced heavy bombing. More than million Chinese troops participated and 350 000 Japanese. Big clashes occurred on shore of Yangtze river which always had important strategic location in Chinese history. Battle resulted in defeat of Chinese troops but Japanese forces had severe losses too. Hundreds of lives were taken on both sides. Japanese captured Wuhan but their advancement was halted in central China until 1944. This battle gave chance to Chinese troops to regroup and prepare for more battles. Japanese control of areas surrounding Wuhan was weak since Red Army constantly launched guerilla attacks on their infrastructure and logistics what was further delaying new offensives of Japanese army. Japanese forces committed many crimes again and used chemical weapons too. Another significant battle was at Taierzhuang at Shandong province which finished by Chinese victory in April 1938.


Between December 1939 and March 1940 in Guangdong, Anhui, Hubei , Shanxi, Shaanxi and Shandong large Chinese counteroffensive occurred. In central and northern China Red Army was dominant anti Japanese force while in eastern areas, both Red Army and NRA fought against Japanese while on south and some central areas KMT fought. Counteroffensive wasn’t completely successful but great damage was done to Japanese troops especially in areas where guerillas sabotaged their activities constantly. Communist leadership launched some bigger offensive because they regained some strength, soldiers and supplies. In August 1940 PLA already had more than 500 000 soldiers and more of supplies and equipment. Thus under command of Zhu De was launched 100 Regiments Offensive which lasted until December 1940. It was great tactical move of CCP and great victory. They launched attacks on Japanese rails,  telegram lines,  roads, mines and military bases and important posts near Taiyuan, Dezhou,  Datong and Shijiazhuang.  All major connections and defense positions of Japanese forces between these 4 cities were severely destroyed. In this offensive 400 000 PLA soldiers fought against 250 000 Japanese.

partisans ccp
Red Army guerilla, http://cpcchina.chinadaily.com.cn/2011-08/22/content_13915616_3.htm

After Hundred Regiments Offensive position and power of CCP was drastically increased. Their guerilla attacks became more frequent, better coordinated and brought more damage to Japanese troops. They managed to liberate some smaller territories in Jiangsu and Anhui. Because of rising power of communists Chiang Kai Shek became concerned and ordered to communist New 4th Army to withdraw from Anhui in January 1941. Leadership of that army didn’t want to withdraw from Anhui to Jiangsu but moved on another position in Anhui as they had own command independent from KMT. This made angry Chiang Kai Shek and he ordered to KMT troops to open fire on New 4th Army.  Several thousand of PLA soldiers were killed and few hundreds of KMT soldiers. It is known as New 4th Army Incident. This moment is considered as official betrayal of  Second United Front and unity in resistance war by Chiang and KMT. It was end even of nominal alliance between CCP and KMT. However they didn’t fight against each other until 1945. CCP military force was rising drastically between 1941 and 1945. Now not only guerilla attacks intensified but also conventional moves.  Between 1943 and 1945 they managed to increase number of liberated bigger or smaller enclaves in Inner Mongolia, Hebei, Shandong, Shanxi, Shaanxi, Henan, Hunan, Hubei, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui. They didn’t hold any bigger city but were very close to them such as Shanghai, Nanjing, Jinan, Qingdao, Beijing, Wuhan, Hangzhou, Kaifeng, Luoyang, Anyang, Hefei, Wuchang . Zhengzhou and Nanchang. CCP forces held there major sections of major  roads and rails which were connecting vast Chinese territories.  During Operation Ichi Go 8 Route Army was trying to prevent Japanese forces but unsuccessfully. However Japanese victory in this operation was not stable and  Japanese held roads and rails  were constantly attacked. Bridges and tunnels were more actively destroyed after Operation Ichi Go and for Japan it was harder to control larger occupied territories after this operation. By spring 1945 a lot of intersections of major roads and rails were sabotaged or controlled by Red Army.

In liberated enclaves they were immediately implementing communist tax  reduction, land reforms and were calling people on national liberation against Japan. Power of Japan was declining because of Pacific War against USA where Japan had severe losses and was losing war slowly. After ambushes and guerilla attacks Red Army then usually did large scale moves. Control and administering of occupied territories was more and more difficult because of bigger sabotages. Most of rails, bridges and roads could hardly be used by Japanese forces for any larger move because of constant sabotages, guerilla attacks and it was blocking them.  Only real full control of Japanese forces was remaining in big cities. Now millions of people were attracted by CCP and great patriotic morale of its armies and were joining resistance too. In 1945 CCP managed to gain control over quite big coastal areas of Hebei, Shandong and Zhejiang provinces. Maybe if Japan didn’t surrender in August 1945 as a result of nuclear attacks by USA and Soviet Union entering war against Japan war for liberation wouldn’t finish that fast but with such tactics of CCP, Japanese presence in China wouldn’t be longer than 5-7 additional years.

CCP soldiers


Simply by tactical, planned in detail and persistent struggle initiated by CCP national revival among Chinese people grew. They woke up against Japanese aggression and started to join Red Army and follow CCP on new promise for communism, equality, land for peasants, free healthcare, free education,  justice, national unification, stability and peace. People were tired from poverty, starving, foreign humiliation, exploitation by foreign powers and KMT which wasn’t taking care of interests of people. By 1945 not only peasants but intellectuals started to support CCP in its aims of  creating of  New China- unified, proud, rebuilt, stable, independent, strong, peaceful and communist China. Chiang Kai Shek and KMT disappointed people and they didn’t want to recognize them as legitimate ruler of China even in those areas controlled by KMT during war, mostly because of oppression and harsh taxes. In 1945 tens of millions were on side of CCP which now had 1.5mln Red Army and 2mln militiamen. In 1947 Red Army was renamed to Peoples Liberation Army. By end of civil war in 1949 PLA had about 5mln soldiers and hundreds of millions of supporters. In next chapter we will review of establishment of Peoples Republic of China and reunification after circa 100 years of instability and humiliation.

new fourth
New Fourth Army, http://en.people.cn/200508/15/eng20050815_202511.html


KMT role

After fall of Nanjing ROC government was seated in Chongqing. NRA employed totally different tactics than Red Army. They maybe were better equipped than Red Army but not ready enough to fight direct warfare which they often initiated. KMTs role in WWII is often seen as a bit undecisive. KMT was divided  between on one side on generals who were around Chiang Kai Shek who were balancing between fighting against Japanese troops and blocking Red Army and on another side those who were aiming to fight invader. Chiang Kai Shek and some more KMT figures are accused for refusing to give information to CCP guerillas about positions of Japanese and even for giving information to Japanese agents about locations of CCP guerillas. Only in 1941 in mentioned above incident KMT forces directly attacked CCP troops. Chiangs troops were positioned in such way that they often blocked movements of Red Army. On KMT controlled territories Chiang was still oppressing population and was sending untrained people to fight directly too. Because of these reasons popularity of KMT was decreasing and they saw more and more Chiang as traitor. Despite division in KMT Chiang was still dominant person what caused continuation of Civil War after 1945.

Battle of wuhan
Battle of Wuhan NRA, http://cpcchina.chinadaily.com.cn/2011-08/22/content_13915616_6.htm

However there were few other KMT generals who fought sincerely against Japanese aggression. Most of credit is usually given to KMT troops and martyrs  who fought for China. There are hundreds of thousands of them who fought conventional warfare. They usually fought in defensive and offensive direct battles. Sometimes these KMT armies were successful sometimes not. Often they fought together with 2 CCP armies- 8 Route Army and New 4th Army against Japanese forces. They didn’t cooperate much but didn’t fought each other except in case of incident in Anhui caused by Chiang Kai Shek loyalists.  Generally speaking todays China respects efforts of KMT generals and soldiers who sincerely fought against Japanese aggression in name of homeland. Their contribution is acknowledged by CCP and their veterans still invited to Beijing on commemorations. But still their strategies are seen as irrational and causing unnecessary losses of people and equipment. Their equipment was much less advanced than Japanese what was one more indicator that their tactic of direct warfare wasn’t best solution. Such tactics caused weakening of KMT and after that defeat by CCP.

Lets review major battles where KMT troops were involved. Chinese historians, CCP and politicians acknowledge today role of KMT soldiers and generals who deserve honor in their battle against Japanese aggression.


ktm solds


Some battles of 1938 and 1939 where KMT participated were mentioned above. Except in battle of Wuhan there were other battles where KMT fought bitterly. Between March and May 1939 battle of Nanchang occurred where 200 000 KMT forces participated against 150 000 Japanese much better equipped troops. NRA was defeated and had to withdraw from Nanchang. During approximately same period 200 000 of KMT forces fought at Suxian against 100 000 Japanese and won there. In February 1939 Hainan island fell under Japanese rule despite KMT persistent defense. Between September and October 1939 Japan launched large scale invasion on Changsha  a strategically important city but their attack was repelled by KMT and Japan got heavy casualties here. Here Red Army guerillas were also involved in sabotaging Japanese forces. During Winter 1939-1940 KMT participated in large scale counteroffensive.

In 1940 battle of Wuyuan occurred where NRA forces commanded by Hui Muslim generals participated in war against Japan and defeated Japanese troops. Japanese forces were attempting to reach Ningxia and create there Hui Muslim puppet state but at battle of Siyuan( Inner Mongolia) Muslim divisions of KMT defeated Japanese forces. At Yichang KMT troops in Hubei won and at Kunlun Pass in Guangxi in 1940. At Shangao in 1941 KMT forces won again. In 1941 KMT again defended Changsha and in 1942. In 1942 in Zhejiang and Jiangxi in its activities KMT forces were successful.

changsha batt

KMT definitely played significant role in fighting Japanese on frontline and achieved several victories but their supplies and power started to deteriorate. Without clear idea and enough closeness to people and large casualties morale of soldiers and their support among people was in decline. Since 1943 their operations became much more reduced and their success as well. Chiang Kai Shek was more and more concerned with rise of popularity of communists and a lot of KMT troops were positioned to block progressing of Red Army guerilla tactics and creating enclaves in central and southern China. He lost a lot of supplies and equipment because of too big and unthinkable activities at beginning and people were more disappointed because of corruption and lack of clear vision. Between 1942 and 1945 few divisions of KMT entered Burma through Yunnan to assist British and later US troops fighting against Japanese forces. These actions were more successful but mostly thanks to powerful US and British war machinery. Even US commanders had disputes with Chiang Kai Shek despite that they supported him because of balancing against Soviet Union.  They tried to use Chiang as their marionette in fighting war on their terms and needs.  Japan was already destabilized by war on Pacific and because of communist guerilla warfare and their strengthening and thus its operations towards further offensives on KMT were delayed. Japan now used its air force and conducted many bombings on Chongqing and other KMT and Red Army positions. Because of poorer tactics and losing public support NRA suffered more casualties. Heavy casualties of civilians were recorded. In April 1944 Japan launched large operation Ichi Go which lasted until December 1944. Their aim was to secure some routes in central and southeastern China towards Indochina and capture airports in south China used by US bombers to bomb Japanese positions. Japan deployed 500 000 soldiers and 800 tanks in Hunan, Henan and Guangxi. Under pressure of USA KMT deployed million troops but they were severely defeated and lost 1mln of people. They lost Changsha, Guilin and Luoyang. Now KMT only had southwestern and some areas of central China under its control. After this operation Japanese forces held even more territories but it was hard to control them because of constant guerilla attacks of Red Army and rising of national resistance in occupied territories. Anyway USA used other bases on Pacific to bomb Japanese territory more and more frequently. Ichi Go was last large scale operation of imperial Japan in China.

Japanese soldiers operation ichi go
Japanese infantry and tanks operation Ichi Go

Japanese control over large occupied areas was dropping thanks to communist rise. Thanks to US victories in battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa Japanese military machinery was destroyed. In last year of war Chiang Kai Shek was reducing military operations and he was focused on defense of KMT held territories.  He also focused on gathering strength to fight against communists. It is often estimated that if Japan didn’t surrender to USA because of nuclear bombs it could capture Sichuan province and headquarters of KMT in Chongqing. There were such preparations but were not initiated because of capitulation of Japan. Between April and August 1945 USA started to support KMT more intensively because of rising rivalry with Soviet Union. They started to provide KMT with arms, tanks, vehicles, artillery and aircrafts. Thus they managed to help them under large support of US air force and several thousand US paratroopers capture areas of Guangxi and Hunan.

WW2 mapa
Situation in 1945

All in all because of all mentioned above KMT is seen as less rational, less serious and undecisive force most because of Chiang Kai Shek. After 1945 KMT regained some power but people and military power were on side of PLA.

Free Area of China

Were territories held either by CCP or KMT during WWII which were not captured by Japanese army.  As mentioned CCP held territories experienced economic and land reforms. Dialogue with people was constantly held there and party officials were constantly becoming closer to people. They attended their celebrations, ate with them, helping them plow the land and aided them with food and medicines. They were introducing to people communist ideas, equality, rights of peasants and workers and patriotic ideas. They were introduced with Marxist and Leninist philosophy. Economic success was achieved in areas controlled by CCP. Red Army applied moral principles taught by Mao Zedong which were mentioned in previous article. Peasants were attracted by new ideas and freedoms and were massively joining Red Army to combat occupation.

KMT under Chiang Kai Shek was introducing hard taxes and hard labor among territories controlled by them. Chiang was trying to take more resources to fight while corruption was dominant there and  while he didn’t have some good idea to get closer to people. This resulted in already mentioned decline of public support. Even in territories controlled by KMT in Gansu in 1944 peasant rebellion started because of poor conditions what led to brutal surpassion.


Chinese puppet governments

Were collaborationist governments installed by Japan on occupied territories.  They were completely subordinated to Japanese army command.

First one was created in 1937 after fall of Beijing and Tianjin. It was called Provisional Government of ROC and its president was former KMT Minister of Finance Wang Kemin.

In 1938 was formed another parallel Reformed Government of ROC with Liang Hongzhi as its president, a former Anhui clique warlord.

Between 1935 and 1938 existed Autonomous Hubei Council as Japanese anti communist puppet which primarily had aim to fight communist guerillas.

All this was incorporated into Reorganized National Government of ROC which lasted between 1940 and 1945 with capital in Nanjing. Wang Jingwei was its president.

This puppet entities had own collaborationist forces under command of Japanese army. This puppet government was recognized only by Axis powers.

At the end of war both PLA and NRA executed many collaborationist officials.

Wang Jinwei
Wang Jingwei

Economy during WWII

Economies of CCP and KMT were already mentioned.  Under occupied territories there was complete use of Chinese labor and resources by Japanese and collaborationist governments. In harsh conditions workers and peasants had to work to provide supplies for armies. Resources were exploited by Japanese. A lot of industry was destroyed by Japanese bombings. Also CCP guerillas often attacked factories and infrastructural objects and mines in order to prevent Japanese forces to use them to supply their army.  Famines were large and killed several million people during war. Chinese economy was one of most destroyed by WWII. Illegal opium trade was blooming.

Life under occupation and Unit 731

Healthcare, education and arts were in decline. Religion was also without progress. Many temples were used as barracks and shelters and  were destroyed in crossfire.  We already spoke about life in CCP and KMT controlled areas. Now we speak hear about life under Japanese occupation. Life was generally hard and people faced everyday violence, corruption and famine. In cities were programs in cinema with aim to distract people from everyday life. In nights there was martial law and anyone could be shot who wasn’t Japanese or Chinese collaborationist officer. Women were often forced into prostitution to earn some money from Japanese for food. Man were under harsh control and could be imprisoned if it was suspected that they cooperate with CCP or KMT. In cities life was more or less quite stable but control of every activity was rigid.  Whenever people on the street would see a Japanese patrol or traffic policeman they had to bow or they could be even shot. Outside of cities in many areas Japanese troops didn’t have full control and were often under guerilla attacks. Peasants were often interrogated, tortured or killed by Japanese soldiers if they were suspected to cooperate with guerilla. As a vengeance for guerilla attack Japanese troops would execute all villagers and burn village. In order to impose fear they often committed random massacres and rapes.  Beheadings, life burials and shooting were common.  There were many prison camps for POWs with poor conditions and torture. It is estimated that Chinese people are second biggest victim of WWII in terms of casualties. There are 25million dead Russians and 20mln dead Chinese. From 20mln Chinese casualties more than half are civilians. What Japan did to Chinese people is often considered as equivalent to holocaust. This war is one of biggest humiliations for Chinese people and most tragic events in its history.

shanghai 1940
Occupied Shanghai 1940, https://www.pinterest.com/pin/529806343651826893/
Victims of bombing of Chongqing 1941


One of worst things which Japan did in WWII is in Manchuria in Harbin. There was established secret Unit 731 facility. Its official purpose was biological and chemical warfare research center but in reality human experimentations were everyday life. Japanese doctors performed medical experiments under Chinese, Manchu and Korean men, women and children. There was vivisection frequently performed over captives without anesthetics. They performed there amputations to study speed of blood loss, amputations and connecting limbs on opposite sides, removal of parts of lungs, brain, livery, kidneys to study its effects and standing of surgery without anesthesia. They often on purpose caused gangrene to study effects.  Japanese doctors were injecting prisoners with plague, gonorrhea, syphilis,  smallpox, anthrax, tularemia, cholera and other dangerous diseases. They performed experiments of new medicines for these diseases  which caused tens of thousands of deaths.

Vivisection, http://www.unit731.org/Experiments.html

Also Japanese warplanes threw on residential area gas containing plague , smallpox and anthrax in Manchuria, Ningbo and Changde to test their effects. It was causing large epidemics causing millions of deaths.  Prisoners infected with syphilis and non infected were often forced into sex to observe transmitting of disease. Some of infected people were  vivisected in order to observe internal and external effects of disease. Testing maximal dose of X rays, plague bullets, standing cold or hot water, centrifuges, burning alive, injecting animal blood, injecting sea water and similar things. Japan was testing these weapons in order to potentially use them in warfare. When soviets captured Manchuria in 1945 doctors fled to Japan with their families. After war they gave to CIA results of experiments as deal to avoid trial. USA used its results in own researches during Cold War. Soviet Union took some documents from Unit 731 and used them too. A lot of former guards after war acknowledged what happened there and in similar units in Changchun, Beijing, Guangzhou and Nanjing. In Beijing famous Peking Union Medical College Hospital served as center for medical experimentations in Beijing.

Child, http://listverse.com/2017/03/09/10-atrocious-experiments-conducted-by-unit-731/
Shiro Ishi, commander of Unit 731




unit open
Unit 731 open for visitors today

Other Regions

Manchukuo and Soviet liberation

Lets start from Manchukuo a puppet state of Japan. During WWII communist guerillas were often interrupting functioning of everyday life of occupier and puppet by sabotages and raids. Manchukuo army often participated in war on side of Japan in areas of northern and northeastern China.  We already mentioned Unit 731.


In August 1945 Soviet Union started invasion on Manchukuo. Only in 10 days Japanese and Manchukuo forces were severely defeated by powerful and victorius Soviet 1.5mln soldiers including tanks and air force. Soviet Union already captured Berlin and now turned against Japan too. Chiang Kai Shek invited Soviet Union to invade Manchuria and was promising Manchuria to Soviet Union as he hoped that in such case Soviet Union will turn on side of KMT.  This is considered by CCP as another betrayal of Chinese people by Chiang Kai Shek. Soviet Union liberated Inner Mongolia, Manchuria and north parts of Korea from Japanese occupation. However at that moment Soviet Union gave Manchuria to PLA which served as new base to fight against KMT and unite China. Chinese and Manchu resistance movements joined PLA. Many Japanese civilians who were brought by Japanese forces to inhabit Manchukuo were left behind and now they stayed in China. Most of them were women and they married Chinese man and raised children and were well treated.

Pu Yi was captured by Soviet Red Army and taken to Siberia. He was there until 1950 when PRC was founded as Chiang Kai Shek wanted to execute Pu Yi. After extradition he was taken to Fushun prison camp in Liaoning province. H was well treated there and expressed repentance for everything in past. It was proved that he was only puppet and that he didn’t know what Japanese forces did in secret. Pu Yi was therefore released in 1960 and lived peacefully in Beijing  as editor and editor until his death in 1967.  Until death he enjoyed protection from CCP.

pu yi arrest
Pu Yi arrested, http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/detail/news-photo/the-chinese-emperor-pu-yi-being-arrested-and-taken-by-news-photo/104401985#the-chinese-emperor-puyi-being-arrested-and-taken-by-soviet-officers-picture-id104401985
Mao Zedong and Pu Yi

Inner Mongolia and Mengjiang

Japan captured many areas of Inner Mongolia in 1936 those which were not annexed into Manchukuo. On these territories was formed Mengjiang a Mongolian puppet state. Japan appointed there Demchungdongrub a former prince and Mongol nationalist as ruler. Mengjiang actually wasn’t considered as independent but formally as part of reorganized collaborationist ROC government. Inner Mongol Army was formed but served as puppet army. Both Han Chinese and Mongol communist guerillas were active there against collaborationists. In 1945 Soviet Union liberated Inner Mongolia and returned it to China and it was later one of major communist bases and became Autonomous Region under control of communist China in 1947.  Autonomy for Mongol people was guaranteed now in frames of PRC. In 1949 Demchundongrub escaped to Mongolian Peoples Republic but was expelled and returned back to China. He was there arrested and 13 years in prison. After that he lived in Beijing until his death in 1966.


As mentioned before it was governed by Anti KMT warlord Sheng Shicai. He was cooperating with Soviet Union and with CCP. Some of Chinese Red Army troops were increasing presence in Xinjiang in 1943. Sheng Shicai was afraid of their influence and he massacred them including Mao Zedongs brother. Soon after that Ma clique warlords and KMT garrisons threw Sheng Shicai from power. Because of that Soviet Union in 1944 initiated Uighur revolt known as Illi Rebellion and sent there its Red Army too. KMT garrisons, Pro KMT Uighur warriors and Ma clique soldiers were defeated. They established Second East Turkestan Republic. Uighur nationalists  and communists came to power and declared war on ethnic Han people within Xinjiang. Mass massacres of them occurred. Several hundred thousands of Han people were killed and also Hui Muslims. Ali Khan Ture was president until 1944 and until 1949 Ehmetjan Qasimi. ETR served as Soviet puppet state. Since 1945-1946 there were active pro Chinese Uighur communists. ETR fell under legal and legitimate control of PRC in 1949 even when Soviet Union wanted to avoid it.


An island of Chinese expeditions and Chinese colony during Ming dynasty shared with Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish.  With fall of Ming dynasty some Ming officials struggled until 1680ies against By end of XVII century it was incorporated into China under Qing dynasty. By force it was taken by imperial Japan in 1895 and since that time until 1945 it was Japanese colony. It was heavily industrialized in order to support Japanese colonial and military machinery and served as good located base for navy. In 1913 there was large pro Chinese rebellion but was brutally surpassed. During WWII it served as military base and industrial hub. Japan was trying to assimilate Chinese population by imposing Japanese laws, culture, religion and educational system. In 1945 under pressure of USA Taiwan was given back to KMT controlled China and it became there a province.400 000 Japanese lived in Taiwan at that moment and by 1946 they were expatriated to Japan about 90% of them.




There were no significant events in Tibet during WWII. Theocratic system and serfdom was remaining unchanged. Nazi Germany in 1938 sent SS expedition to Tibet to perform researches. They often compared conditions of Tibet to that one of medieval times. In 1939 Japan sent agents to Tibet to gather intelligence about Soviet activities in Central Asia. In 1945 Tibet was still a de jure part of China but only in 1950 PLA troops incorporated it into PRC.


China and international relations during WWII

All League of Nations condemned Japanese invasion of China. Even Nazi Germany until 1939 was supplying by weapons and other equipment NRA. But with outbreak of WWII in 1939 Germany definitely decided to completely ally with Japan.  NRA was mostly supported by USA in terms of arms, tanks and aircrafts especially after 1943 with rise of communist power. Since 1945 Soviet Union started massively to support CCP with arms and ceding some liberated territories of Manchuria and Inner Mongolia. USA and Britain didn’t support NRA because they considered KMT as legitimate representatives of China but because of its interest to balance against Soviet Union and communist forces what was aim of US foreign policy. On Yalta Conference 1945 China was not invited there. Soviet Union, USA and UK agreed there to give all occupied territories to China. All of this was given back to KMT except Manchuria and Inner Mongolia which were given to CCP. By end of WWII China was nominally recognized as world power even if KMT army wasn’t that strong enough and Chinese economy was very weak. USA threw two atomic bombs on Japan on cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki what discouraged Japan to further fight a war. When Japan signed capitulation in September 1945 it was obliged to return all occupied Chinese territories to China.It was done nominally to increase balance in international relations and build legitimacy of victorious side and reduce influence of Japan. Similar thing was done with France on cost of Germany. China became permanent member of UN Security Council in October 1945. But KMT representatives were considered as legitimate ones by USA, UK and France because of their anti communist stance. Soviet Union demanded from USA to recognize Outer Mongolia as independent as condition to enter war against Japan in Since beginning of 1946 Soviet Union was supporting intensively PLA and USA KMT. USA gave billions of dollars for KMT armies. But Soviet aid was much smaller because they were partially suspective of support to PLA because of Soviet idea to get control over Xinjiang. Chiang Kai Shek was promising to Soviet Union Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Manchuria in case if they support KMT but Soviet government rejected it because of initial idea to support communist China. When it comes to unequal treaties they were canceled in 1945 because most of foreign concessions were part of Japanese occupied territories since 1941 and because foreign states wanted to nominally increase credibility of China. In 1945 Soviet Union, France,  Japan, Italy and Britain cancelled all unequal treaties and formally returned all concessions. Only Hong Kong and Macau remained colonies of Britain and Portugal until 1997 and 1999 on basis of previous state agreements. In 1941 Japan occupied Hong Kong while Macau stayed untouched because of Portuguese neutrality during WWII.

Next chapter is about resuming of Civil War and establishment of PRC and first period of CCP rule in China.







https://www.britannica.com/event/Nanjing-Massacre  https://www.google.com/url?hl=sk&q=http://www.historynet.com/what-did-mao-and-his-communist-army-contribute-to-defeating-japan.htm&source=gmail&ust=1499338000610000&usg=AFQjCNEHAnWLDeAlyfwbHFtd6O0-eqmaN




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