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Friday, August 28, 2015

China's Communists Now Have Starring Role Vs WWII Japan

War is always written by the winners… and in most cases, is re-written. Who's to argue?

That's what China wants to world to believe as it has planned a large military parade next week to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II.

While there is no doubt that China was brutalized by the Japanese in the years before the official start of WWII and during it, it is still curious to learn that China has altered its own history in its freshly expanded national war museum near Beijing to show that the Communists—particularly Mao Zedong (Tse-tung)—were the real heroes for China.

Well… Mao and his Communist guerrillas certainly were heroes for China in the war against Japan, but the point is, China has decided to completely gloss over the exploits of one of its other real heroes because he doesn't fit in with their communistic ideals.

That would be China's wartime leader Chiang Kai-shek (October 31, 1887 – April 5, 1975), a non-Communist who was a key member of the Kuomintang Chinese Nationalist Party.

A little back history is required, considering we are talking history.

After the second (China) Sino-Japanese War began in 1937, Japan's Imperial Army took great delight in marching all over China, having control of all of North China by June of 1938.

To stop Japan from advancing into western and southern China, at the suggestion of Chinese General Chen Guofu, Chiang Kai-shek ordered his troops to open up the dikes that held back the Yellow River near Zhengzhou.

With waters flooding through Central China on June 5 and 7, it destroyed everything in its path, including thousands of square kilometers of farmland, shifting the mouth of the Yellow River by hundreds of kilometers to the south.  

Of course, the desperate act did indeed slow down the Japanese, but for China it did take anywhere from 500,000-800,000 lives (by drowning) and leaving some five-million others homeless.

It has been called the largest act of environmental warfare in history, though I doubt if it also takes into consideration Moses' parting of the Red Sea as fact or myth.

Did it really work? Yes, the Japanese were slowed, but they weren't even in the area of the flood waters… and even still, the Japanese managed to achieve their objective of taking Wuhan by coming at it from a different direction.

After all was said and done, the flood affected China for many years, as the once arable land was abandoned as uncultivable due to excess silt. Little to no housing left… no farm land… death… and the Japanese got what they wanted anyway.

So, Andrew, I hear you ask, why should Chiang Kai-shek be celebrated by the Chinese?

Good question.

Cherry picking the good and the bad is what has made Japan a pariah when it comes to its activities during WWII… discussing its role in the war with its students, but never delving into the crap it got up to.

China is doing the same.

Chiang Kai-shek doesn't need to be 'honored' at Chinese national war museum or during these festivities, but neither should he and his actions be ignored.

Truth is, although many Chinese were disgusted by the actions of the invading Japanese for ruining their lives, they were also pissed at the Chinese government for the desperate and ultimately wasteful action they took to repel the invaders.

However, it should be stated that many Chinese also took the desperate 1938 Yellow River Flood as a rallying cry for themselves—much in the same way Texans like to "Remember The Alamo."

The Communist Government used the destructive event as a means for recruitment, eventually creating a major fighting guerrilla group.

Really, I hear you ask? Yes… in fact, after WWII when the Chinese national government tried (with the U.N.) to seal the dam, the Chinese Communists fought against it (not physically). It was that important to the Communists.

While the dikes were rebuilt by 1947, and the Yellow River was forced back to its pre-1938 course, by bursting the Yellow River dikes, it gave China's communists a huge victory in the north… just maybe not so much for all those dead Chinese farmers in the west and south.

So… if the bursting of the Yellow River Dam was so important to China then, why does China now seek to devalue its import now?

So what's to celebrate? Well, the upcoming Communist party celebrating China's victory of Japan… or perhaps Japan's surrender to the Allies (it depends how one wants to spin such things) glorifies the efforts of Mao and his Communist warriors for their role in a key battle, where they pinned down some 800,000 Japanese troops in China.

While they may or may not have been leading from the rear of the battle, this show of strength helped garner further support for Communism in China, leading eventually to China winning its civil war in 1949 against the Kuomintang government.

The point is, that Communist forces and non-Communist forces played a huge role in defending China against Japan… but just because the Communists are now in charge of China is no reason to avoid discussing the roles others may have played. 

It was certainly key for the Communists back then…

The 1930s and 40s were bad for China—14 million dead, 80 million refugees… so hating Japan was easy.
Nowadays, China and Japan are arch-nemesis for who's #1 in Asia.

We should note that after WWII, China, not mentioning Japan's treatment of it during the war, was trying to woo Japan to leave the side of the west and join China.

You know… the whole "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" thing. But Japan, probably harboring plenty of its old hatred for China, never really got into being partners with China - though efforts continued until as late as 1989.

In a public display in Beijing in 1989, the Communist Government of China cracked down on student protesters against communism and began chirping anti-Japanese spouting to rise up the then-faltering communist popularity at home.    

By 2015, it obviously worked. 

Still, it makes one wonder why China  - who likes to play up the past - doesn't seem to want to properly mention the roles of the non-Communists who helped it defeat a 'mortal enemy' as Japan.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

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