BEIJING, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) — China deserves more respect abroad for its role resisting fascism during World War II, a Chinese historian has said, as the country marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.
“China’s important status and efforts during the war have been neglected by the West for more than 70 years due to the cold war. It’s not fair that the country hasn’t received due respect and has become a forgotten ally,” Hu Dekun wrote in an article published on Wednesday in Guangming Daily.
Hu, president of the Chinese Research Association of Second World War History, stressed that China was the main battlefield in Asia and one of the most important battlefields in the whole of the war.
Japan started to invade northeast China in September 1931, foreshadowing WWII and making China the first country to resist Fascism. With Japan’s full-scale invasion kicking off on July 7, 1937, the Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China (CPC) joined forces, making China the first battlefield of resistance against the Axis.
Citing Japanese battle logs describing the bloody Battle of Songhu in 1937, Hu said Chinese soldiers and civilians’ resistance was “very tough.” They endured a siege during the battle in which Japan suffered more than 40,000 casualties.
China’s resoluteness foiled the enemy’s fantasy of winning the war within a month and dragged the main force of the Japanese army into drawn-out, costly warfare, holding Japan back from invading other regions and relieving pressures on the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union.
According to the article, as Japan had to gradually mobilize more forces to China, 32 of 34 divisions of the Japanese army, or 94 percent of its entire forces, as well as some navy forces, ended up in the China battlefield by 1938, when large-scale battles took place in central China.
As the resistance went on, the CPC’s regular army and militia grew to surpass 3.1 million people and they became the main force to finally turn the tables and launch counterattacks in 1945.
Meanwhile, China’s fierce resistance also greatly distracted Japan from the Pacific battlefield, Hu noted.
In 1942, the Japanese navy mapped a plan to invade Australia to prevent the United States using the country as a base to launch counterattacks, but the Japanese army, unable to transfer a huge portion of its forces from China, rejected the plan.
According to Hu, Japanese troops in China still far outnumbered those in the Pacific battlefield by the end of the Pacific War.
As for Europe, Japan, weighed down by China’s resistance, had to turn down Germany’s request for reinforcement in 1942 when Germany was deep in the Battle of Stalingrad with the Soviet Union.
Later, Japan would turn down multiple similar requests from Germany, freeing the Soviet Union from the worry of being outflanked.
“China’s efforts forced Japan and Germany to fight battles independently of each other and to fail to cooperate strategically, giving the Allies an upper hand,” the article said.
As part of the Allies’ plan, Chinese troops also battled in Myanmar between 1943 and 1945 and liberated the country’s north as well as the border area of southwest China’s Yunnan Province after severe casualties.
The road linking Yunnan and Myanmar secured by Chinese troops would later greatly facilitate the Allies’ counterattacks in Myanmar.
China maintained diplomatic ties with the Allies throughout WWII and also played a key role in helping set up post-War order, Hu said. He cited the Cairo Declaration, the outcome of the meeting attended by China, the United States and Britain in 1943 demanding Japan return all territories it invaded and offering the basis for handling Japan after its defeat.
In July 1945, the three countries issued the Potsdam Proclamation, another key legal document to demand Japan’s unconditional surrender to the Allies and accelerating the end of WWII.
One of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, China played a key role in the planning and founding of the UN after WWII, setting down the Charter of the United Nations together with the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union in 1945.
“As a weak country then, China was brave enough to stand up against powerful Japanese fascism, maintained enduring resistance, greatly supported the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union in their own fights and hugely contributed to the establishment of post-WWII order and the founding of international organizations. History proves beyond doubt that China was rightfully one of the four major anti-fascist nations,” Hu wrote.