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It Is More Than A War. It Is a Social Movement: The War of Resistance against

Popularity 2Viewed 2266 times 2015-9-10 22:40 |System category:News


Han Dongping

Guest Professor of Hebei University

Professor of Warren Wilson College

This year marks the 70th Anniversary of the victory of the War of Resistance against the Japanese Fascists.  It is an important historical milestone in the course of the revival of the Chinese Nation.   At time, China, one of the oldest civilizations, the only one with an uninterrupted history, was on the verge of collapse under the onslaught of Western Imperialism and Japanese fascism.   The war of resistance, which lasted 14 years, was first of all a test if the Chinese Nation would be able survive the challenges of the time.    With the final victory, the Chinese people successfully passed the test.

In the last couple decades, Chinese scholars have engaged in a debate about who was the leading force in the war and who made the most contribution to the revival of the Chinese nation.   One side argued that the Nationalist forces fought the most battles, and lost the most soldiers and generals in the fight.    Therefore the nationalists were the leading force of the war and made more contribution to the revival of Chinese nation. 

The other side argued that the nationalist government did offer any resistance when the Japanese fascists started the war in September, 1931, because Jiang Jieshi believed that the Communist Party was a disease of heart, and the Japanese, on the other hand, was only a disease of skin.   He wanted to pacify the communist first before he would take on the Japanese.  

Once Jiang Jieshi was forced to take on the Japanese after the Xian Incident, whereas Jiang was house arrested by his own deputy commander in Chief for his nonresistance policy, the Nationalist Government did not have a well thought out overall strategy for the war.  The major battles the Nationalist forces launched against the Japanese ended up in heavy losses of personnel and land. The capture of Nanjing a few months after the war caused a heavy of loss life on the Chinese side.  Within one and half years of the war, Jiang lost most of China’s heartland to the Japanese.   If not for the fact that the Chinese Communists engaged in the endured warfare against the Japanese behind the enemy lines, and if not for the fact that the U.S. declared war on Japan, Jiang would have lost the ability to continue the war then.

More importantly, the War of Resistance against Japanese fascist should be seen more like a social movement than a war.   Based on a correct analysis of Japan and China’s national resources, the Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong very early on realized that the only way China could defeat the Japanese was to mobilize and organize the Chinese people to an all-out war effort.   It was the Chinese Communist Party who have effectively organized the Chinese people an effective war efforts, which the American Army Observers, the so called Dixy Mission, were very much impressed at the time.   As a result, Japan was forced to concentrate most of its war efforts against the Communists late in the war. 

If we see the War of Resistance against Japan as a social movement rather than a war simply, it is clear that the Chinese Communist Party and its leader Mao Zedong played a much more important role in defeating Japan and made more contribution with his development of effective theory and practice to guide the Chinese war efforts.

When I teach about the WW II in the U.S. one of the Japanese students in the class insisted that China did not defeat Japan during WW II.   It was the U.S., he said, that defeated Japan.    I told him that it was true that China did not defeat Japan alone.  But as long as China continued the fight, it would be only a matter of time that China would have defeated Japan.   In 1950, five years later, China even defeated the UN forces led by the U.S. in Korea War.    With my explanation, the Japanese student immediately said that he understood now.

The War of Resistance against Japan was a social movement, which transformed China and Chinese people in the process.    It laid the foundation for the revival and rise of China later on.    Chinese people should always remember that.  

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Professor of Warren Wilson College in the US.


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