22 September 2019

Sept 18, 1931: Japan Invaded China!

Frank Li

Eighty-eight years ago today (i.e. 9/18/1931), Japan invaded China (Japanese invasion of Manchuria)! It's a huge event in Chinese history, especially as a big part of China's Century of humiliation. So, let's better understand it, shall we?

1. What happened on 9/18/1931?

The Japanese invasion of Manchuria began on 18 September 1931, when the Kwantung Army of the Empire of Japan invaded Manchuria immediately following the Mukden Incident. After the war, the Japanese established the puppet state of Manchukuo. Their occupation lasted until the Soviet Union and Mongolia launched the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation in 1945.

2. When did WWII start?

For Europe, WWII started on September 1, 1939, when Nazi Germany marched into Poland (Invasion of Poland). For America, it started on December 7, 1941, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor (Attack on Pearl Harbor). For China, it started much earlier, with two possible dates:
July 7, 1937, according to Wikipedia - Second Sino-Japanese War.
September 18, 1931 (Japanese invasion of Manchuria), in my humble opinion the correct starting date.

3. Japan and WWII

Japan's ambition to conquer the world by conquering Asia first is well documented in the Tanaka Memorial (see image below), published in 1927.

By 1927, Japan already conquered Korea (Wikipedia - Korea under Japanese rule) and Taiwan (Wikipedia - Taiwan under Japanese rule). The next target was [mainland] China and Japan took the first major step on September 18, 1931! It is for this reason, chiefly, that I consider this date to be the start of WWII-China, or more broadly, WWII-Asia.

4. China and WWII

Here is a simple analogy for the West: China's role in WWII-Pacific was similar to, and perhaps even much more significant than, the U.K.'s role in WWII-Europe!

Specifically, from September 18, 1931 (and much more fiercely after July 7, 1937) to December 7, 1941, China was actually the only major resistance to Imperial Japan, as the U.K. was to Nazi Germany before the other allies (e.g. the USSR and the U.S.) were fully engaged! Had China (or the U.K.) fallen to Imperial Japan (or Nazi Germany) more completely and sooner, as some hot-headed Japanese military leaders promised to their emperor before the war started, the proceedings and outcome of WWII-Pacific (or WWII-Europe) could have been very different.

The video at the end of this post offers a historical view of WWII-China. Additionally, here is a good book (Forgotten Ally).

Two pieces of fact as a summary:

Throughout WWII, more than 90% of the Japanese Army was actually trapped and engaged in China. Japan's military casualties in China totaled more than 1.5 million!

China fought WWII longer than any other allied nation! According to Wikipedia - World War II casualties, some 20 million Chinese died in WWII, second only to the USSR, which lost some 27 million. According to some Chinese sources, more than 35 million Chinese actually died in WWII.

The photo below remembers China for her role in WWII. For more, read: Wikipedia - Cairo Conference.

5. How did WWII-Pacific end?

America completely destroyed Japan's Navy and Air Force, leaving Japan, which has few natural resources, helplessly and hopelessly isolated!

Finally, America decisively dropped two atomic bombs (first on Hiroshima and then on Nagasaki) in August 1945, forcing Japan to surrender unconditionally on September 2, 1945.

A Chinese perspective: America got involved in WWII not for China or because of China. However, without America's active participation in WWII, the Chinese would most likely be speaking Japanese today. For that alone, China is forever indebted to America!

6. China vs. Japan

Two informative readings:

7. Discussion

Why do we study the past?

To better understand the present and foresee the future!

Why do we study WWII?

To prevent WWIII from happening, which will destroy us as a species!

Now, let me highlight two significant points:
China is back!
America is the most dangerous country in the world!

Let me elaborate on each …

7.1 China is back!

The dramatic comeback of China over the past four decades not only has rocketed China's economy to the world's top (in terms of PPP - purchasing power parity), with no end in sight, but also is ending western domination over the past 200 years.

What does that mean to the world? Everything, from politics (End of Democracy?) to economics (Adam Smith vs. Karl Marx)!

To understand the profound implication of this change, we must truly understand the past, re-writing parts of the history as necessary. For more, read: History 2.0.

7.2 America is the most dangerous country in the world!

The image below is worth more than 1,000 words.

Unfortunately for America, not only is former President Carter’s advice above unheeded, some of our leaders, including President Trump, also have openly demonstrated hostility against China, trying to destroy her, Tonya Harding style!

Two informative readings:

In short, America is the most dangerous country to China, as well as to the world! Three informative readings:

As a Chinese-American, I am caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, I wish China, my native country, well - She suffered severely over the past 200 years. On the other hand, I wish America, my adopted country, well - She must stop her precipitous decline, if she ever hopes to restore her status as the shining city upon a hill. Most importantly, there must be no war, trade or otherwise, between the two largest economies in the world!

So, what do I do?


Two informative readings:

8. Closing

It's my duty to help my fellow Americans better understand China, as well as America. This post is yet another attempt.

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