By Hu Deku-
China was the main theater of the World Anti-Fascist War in the east. However, due to the Cold War, its prominence has been deliberately watered down in the past seven decades. It was unjustly treated as a “forgotten ally.”
1931 marked the start of the anti-Fascist campaigns with the Japanese Imperial Army’s invasion of China. China’s war of resistance against Japan was the first large-scale movement against Fascism.
Japan conducted an all-out invasion of China in 1937, and it planned to end the war quickly in case it would be mired in a protracted struggle. However, dragging Japan in a protracted war was China’s countermeasure. The Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China (CPC) forged a united front to counter Japan’s aggression. The Kuomintang army bore the brunt of the Japanese assault, while the CPC army drove deep into the rear of the Japanese-occupied areas. The two battlefields became the first anti-Fascist theater.
The two battlefields managed to drag down the Japanese army in a protracted war, and the Chinese theater successfully smashed Japan’s original plan of a quick ending.
Since the Japanese army couldn’t conquer China quickly, it had to reinforce the troops. At the dawn of the Battle of Wuhan in 1938, Japan deployed 32 out of 34 army divisions, which was 94 percent of its ground forces and part of its navy, on the Chinese battlefield.
From 1939 to 1944, the Japanese army launched a series of battles. However, although the Chinese army lost most of the battles, the Kuomintang government was not crushed. What was more, as agreed, the Chinese army entered Burma, now Myanmar, in 1943 and liberated the northern part of the country and the border areas of Yunnan. In three years, the Chinese army kept alive an imperative route of external support.
The CPC army also developed quickly as it employed various strategies and tactics to fight the Japanese army. When a full-scale counterattack began in 1945, the number of the CPC regular army hit 910,000 and the number of militia increased to 2.2 million. They became the major force to conduct the counterattack.
Therefore, historical records have proven that China is the main theater in Asia. Then US president Franklin Roosevelt gave full compliment to China’s contributions in WWII in the state of the union address in 1945, saying “nor can we forget how, for more than seven long years, the Chinese people have been sustaining the barbarous attacks of the Japanese and containing large enemy forces on the vast areas of the Asiatic mainland.”
In WWII, the countries of anti-Fascist alliance supported each other in many ways. China’s resilience in countering the Japanese invasion successfully contained its other plans, which effectively supported China’s allies such as the Soviet Union, the US and the UK.
China adopted alliance diplomacy after Japan launched an all-out invasion of China in 1937. However, at that time, the US and the UK carried out a policy of appeasement and didn’t offer sufficient aid to China.
After the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941, the Pacific War was waged. China suggested that China, the US, the UK and the Soviet Union set up a military alliance. The suggestion was finally approved by the “Big Three.” On January 1, 1942, the four parties signed the UN Declaration, which marked the founding of the anti-Fascist alliance.
The establishment of the alliance was a repayment of China’s alliance diplomacy. China, since then, was regarded as one of the four major roles in the alliance. However, China was still haunted by the unequal treaties signed between the Qing government and the big powers. It was not until 1943 that most of these treaties were removed. China regained the de jure equal status as every other country.
China was committed to the establishment of a postwar order before WWII ended. It played a crucial role in the signings of a series of important documents, such as the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation. These documents led to the defeat of Japan and they have become the basis of international laws. China also became a founding member of the UN.
Although a weak country, China made great contributions to the victory of WWII and the establishment of a new international order. China’s role deserves to be remembered. The victory in WWII and peace and stability after the war should be safeguarded by both China and the rest of the world.
The author is the president of the Chinese Association for History of WWII. [email protected]
Source:Global Times Published: 2015-8-5 18:51:03