The European invasions of East Asia: Part Seven …Japan’s failed attempt to take China


WHEN China’s city of Shanghai was being bombed by Japan, even after the Chinese army had retreated, the only place the Japanese feared to attack in Shanghai was the international settlement because it would compel the Western nations to join the war against them.
Only a few thousands of Chinese civilians could be accommodated in the international settlement and the rest were locked outside.
Thousands and thousands were charred by fire from the bombing or crashed to death by falling buildings.
Trailers of bodies were driven from the city and the infrastructure was destroyed. The Japanese drew further inland and reached the city of Nanjing, which was then China’s capital city.
The Chinese also sought to destroy all factories, crops and strategic buildings to incapacitate the Japanese.
The Chinese people were also told to move west, and many of them voluntarily joined the Chinese army.
Over 30 million Chinese people travelled west on foot for a distance longer than 3 200 kilometres.
The Chinese army put up a fight against their Japanese aggressors, but were overwhelmed by their heavy artillery.
In Nanjing, the Japanese committed the worst crimes against humanity on the Chinese.
Men, women and children were buried alive.
Others were lined up against walls and shot by firing squads.
It is estimated that over 300 000 disarmed and defenseless Chinese people were killed in cold blood in Nanjing by the Japanese troops.
The attack of Nanjing was so devastating to the Chinese people that it united to fight the Japanese.
They needed a strategy and they planned to regain the country piece by piece as they made advances to build and improve their weapons to completely subdue the Japanese.
Because Japan was invading from the east, China decided to move its industries to the west of the country for uninterrupted functionality.
They took with them all that they needed from their museums, hospitals, libraries and factories and dragged them on their backs, carts and rickshaws.
The Chinese even dismantled and carried away the railway tracks that they were leaving behind so as to live nothing for the Japanese.
These tactics were very effective and bought the Chinese time, and minimised the rate of casualties in the invaded regions.
The Chinese worked together like ants, pulling loads across rivers with their backs. This became the world’s biggest mass migration and showed the zeal of the Chinese people for freedom.
In the west the Chinese established a government in Chongqing.
Thousands of volunteers built caves in anticipation of Japanese air strikes like those that took place in Shanghai.
The Chinese exercised war drills whereby all the civilians would find refuge in the caves.
In the caves, the Chinese were safe from the bombs.
As anticipated, the Japanese eventually destroyed Chongqing, but they barely touched the civilians and their factories which were safe in caves.
In the caves, the Chinese were also manufacturing their weapons, by day and by night, while the outside of Chongqing was blazing in flames.
The Japanese countered the Chinese tactics by using Chinese slave labour to rebuild the railway lines they had broken down.
The Japanese also surrounded the whole coastal area of China so as to cut off their supplies.
China was dependant on these supplies for food and fuel and they were forced to find alternate routes.
The Chinese built a road with basic tools from Chongqing to Myanmar (Burma), where it would connect with a railway line to India.
The work was unthinkably difficult because of a high mountain range that was between the two lands.
Engineers from the international community had been consulted and they calculated that a road like that would take at least six years to complete with the most modern and sophisticated machinery.
China, with the use of its men, women and children, with the most basic tools, in their tens of thousands, managed to build the road in less than 12 months.
Meanwhile, the Japanese had advanced in the east and had claimed two thirds of the Chinese land that was linked to the railways.
In 1938 CE the Japanese tried to conquer the remaining land that was linked to the railway lines of China.
A major Chinese river called the Yellow River cuts across the middle of China and originally headed south-east to the ocean.
In the beginning of the 1800s CE, there was a flood which abruptly changed the course of the river and led it to head north.
For generations after this, Chinese people went to the new river course in thousands to strengthen the dykes and hold its water.
The Japanese who were not aware of this history were attacking the Chinese, that is when the Chinese blew up one of the southern dykes they had strengthened and the floods returned, blocking the Japanese from advancing further west, and bringing the Yellow River back to its original course.
The Chinese people that remained in the east during the great migration had been used as slaves by the Japanese and now that the ones in the west were protected from the Japanese by the Yellow River barrier, the Chinese in the east were forced to resort to guerilla warfare.
With the few things they could put their hands on, the Chinese guerillas continually fought and terrorised the Japanese in the occupied territories.
The Japanese were forced to move on to the third step of their plan to World dominance, which was to conquer the rest of South-East Asia and the East Indies because China had proven a difficult target.
Among the places that were bombed by the Japanese in the Pacific was Pearl Harbour, an island that had been captured and settled by US troops.
The US navy base of Pearl Harbour was bombed by Japanese air strikes and this eventually led to a full-fledged intervention by the Americans in the war against Japan and Hitler.
In December of 1941 CE the Japanese attacked Changsha.
Just as they thought they had routed the Chinese armies and were about to enter the city, the Chinese forces strategically attacked the Japanese from behind and forced them to retreat after a signal victory.
In 1942 CE Japan conquered Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Myanmar.
By 1944 CE, the USA was fully involved in the war against Japan, so was Britain, through its commonwealth colonies, particularly India.
The Chinese received supplies and training from the USA.
Flying war planes was one of the key areas the Chinese benefitted from American training just before the war came to an end.


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