Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Communist China Just Lengthened World War II

Recently, the People’s Republic of China announced that they are officially changing the date for the start of World War II. They did this, they openly said, to highlight the role of the Communist Party in fighting the Japanese and as part of an overall campaign to instill patriotic fervor, and some would say xenophobia, in the Chinese youth of today. Which, in itself, only makes sense if one takes into account the amount of deception already in place when it comes to how the Chinese Communist Party uses history as a political tool. This has also meant that they have had to adjust their official name for World War II in East Asia from, “The Eight-Year War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression” to, “The Fourteen-Year War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression”. Hardly rolls off the tongue but maybe it sounds better in Chinese. Some commentators, such as Michael Peck at “The National Interest” have said that the Chinese are doing the right thing but for the wrong reason. Actually, they are doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason. Nothing about this is right or remotely accurate.

Traditionally, historians have dated the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War or World War II in East Asia (or the “Greater East Asian War” if you’re in Japan) to the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 7, 1937. This is because it was from that point onward, increasing in intensity, that large-scale combat occurred between Chinese and Japanese military forces. So, that makes sense. The Republic of China did not actually declare war on the Empire of Japan until after the attack on Pearl Harbor when the United States, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Australia and others became involved. This was mostly because the leader of the Republic of China, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, was, in my opinion, leaving himself room for maneuver in case the persistent communist threat became a greater concern to him than the Japanese, so that he could negotiate a settlement with Japan in order to focus on fighting Mao Zedong and his communist bandits. Clearly, a war was being fought between Chinese and Japanese forces long before 1941 so taking into account declarations of war is rather meaningless.

Now, the Chinese Communist Party is changing its history books to say that the war actually began at the time of the Mukden Incident on September 18, 1931 when, after a small bomb was exploded on the Japanese-owned South Manchurian Railway, troops of the Imperial Japanese Army rushed in and quickly took control of the region, occupying Manchuria and later established the State (and finally Empire) of Manchukuo under the titular leadership of the last Qing Dynasty Emperor. This, they say, is when the Japanese first invaded China, first engaged in hostile action against China and thus that this was really when World War II in East Asia began. However, while it may make for a nice narrative, this is simply misleading. The war did not start in 1931, plain and simple. That is not what happened and no amount of word play can change the actual facts. The reason some people are buying into this narrative is because they have already swallowed a previous falsehood that has been allowed to take root. The preliminary falsehood is that the Republic of China had any legitimate right to claim ownership of Manchuria in the first place.

That is what this whole farce is based on, that “Japan invaded China” in 1931 and so the war can be said to have started then. Some, like Peter Harmsen, who writes about Japanese atrocities, say that the invasion of Manchuria was, “a full-scale Japanese invasion of territory that had been part of China for centuries” which sounds dramatic and is easy for people to believe, looking at maps seems to verify it, but this is totally untrue. Manchuria had not been part of China for centuries, the Manchu Imperial Family ruled over China for centuries. As I have said before, this would be like saying that prior to 1783 the British Isles had been part of America for centuries. Manchuria was a separate, independent country. The rulers of that country were the Qing Dynasty emperors. They ruled Manchuria and the Ming Dynasty ruled China. Then the Qing Emperor became the Great Khan of Mongolia also. So Manchuria and Mongolia had the same Emperor. Then the Ming Dynasty was overthrown, chaos ensued, the Qing Emperor from Manchuria invaded China and became the accepted, recognized Emperor. You will notice that at no point do the Chinese invade and conquer or buy or annex Manchuria. The ruler of Manchuria became the ruler of China.

Then, centuries later, the Chinese rose up against the Manchu Emperor, he abdicated and the Republic of China was established. The Republic of China, however, claimed ownership over all countries besides their own that had also been ruled by the Manchu Emperors such as Tibet, Mongolia and Manchuria. A certain White Russian general expelled them from Mongolia but the rest were eventually taken and remain part of China to this day, though at least in the case of Tibet some people do recognize the injustice of it. However, Manchuria should be no different. Which is why I have long said, and will go on saying no matter how unpopular it is, that the Japanese occupation of Manchuria and the restoration of the last Qing Emperor to the throne of “Manchukuo” (which is simply how you say Manchuria in Chinese) was the correction of an historical injustice. You can agree or disagree on whether the actions of the Japanese in Manchuria were positive or negative but they had put back on the throne the one man who had the only legitimate right to be there. They restored, officially (whether ‘genuinely’ or not people can debate) the independence of a country that had been independent before and had never been “a part of China”.

That is the basis of this issue and the one the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) most wishes to cover up because it is, so to speak, the root of their entire tree of lies on this issue. The more obvious falsehood is that, as U.S. General William T. Sherman said, “War means fighting and fighting means killing” and not much of that happened in 1931. It is perfectly obvious that the war did not start with the Japanese occupation of Manchuria in 1931 because, on the whole, the Chinese did not resist. There was little to fighting in the whole process. China made no effort to defend Manchuria and this was a matter of official policy. It also makes the current tactic of the CCP trying to take credit for resisting the Japanese all the more laughable. Republic of China president Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had ordered a policy of non-resistance to the Japanese in order to focus on the threat posed by the communist insurgency, which he regarded as more serious. The Chinese Northeastern Army under General Zhang Xueliang was vastly largely than the Japanese forces that moved into Manchuria and yet no significant resistance was offered.

It takes some severe twisting of the facts to insist that a war started in 1931 when there was little to no fighting rather than in 1937 when the armies of two nations became engaged in increasingly large scale combat. Common sense would seem to indicate that a war starts when two sides begin fighting but common sense is often unfashionable and doesn’t always fit with political narratives. The Chinese government decided, as a matter of policy, not to oppose the Japanese and that did not change until 1937 when both sides were drawn into conflict after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. The Chinese communists, you may note, had little to do with any of this other than, perhaps, doing their best to instigate a clash between the Japanese and the Chinese nationalists, knowing it would be to their benefit (in certain cases Mao openly stated this). That, however, also goes against their current narrative. Getting into the details also, ultimately, only serves to bolster the case of Japan since doing that tends to reveal how chaotic China was during this period and what a loose claim to any actual authority the republican government had.

The Japanese have voiced some disapproval over what the Chinese communist government is doing with this re-working of the World War II timeline but they are likely the only ones who will. Encouraging anti-Japanese hatred over historical events has become a mainstay of the CCP’s program to unite the people and divert their frustrations away from the government and toward a foreign power that is not allowed to go to war anymore. One could say that it does reveal how insecure they are about their own national narrative and how shaky the ground is that it rests on. What is alarming is that so many people in other parts of the world have bought into their false narrative, usually because of anti-Japanese sentiment on their own part because of World War II which allows them to easily slip from, “the Japanese are guilty of this” to “the Japanese are guilty of everything”. It is not, however, factual, it is not real history and it should not go unanswered. The effort of the CCP to take credit for everything the nationalists did and to erase from the history books any traces of the Qing Dynasty and the Manchurian nation should be resisted.

4 comments:

  1. i'm sorry MM, I've agreed with everything you have said so far but this is not correct. The Manchus during the Qing dynasty did not use the term "Manchuria" to refer to their ancestral homeland, they called it "Dulimbai Gurun tung-san-sheng" (Three Eastern Provinces of the Middle Kingdom). According to the "Seven Grievances", The Jurchen declared war against the Ming because of various unjust governance over them; before they crossed the Great Wall 75% of their army was already Han Chinese, and they "conquered China" completely only using even more Ming defectors that joined after their crossing - that was how close-knit the Manchu and Han Chinese really were. From 1860 onwards Han chinese were the majority in the these area, and they lived and intermarried peacefully with the manchus (who themselves, including the Imperial family like the Kangxi and Jiaqing Emperors' mothers, from the beginning of the Qing Dynasty were already heavily intermarried with Han Chinese defectors). To this day the three ethnic groups that live there still have a unique mixed culture and identity, almsot all Han Chinese in 1851-1866 and a few in 1911 even refused to cut their queues on pain of death. Only later did the revolutionary scum turn the people against each other so that they could depose the Emperor, similar to the Jacobin supposed "nationalist" accusations against Marie Antoinette. The Ming dynasty, the Han and Qin dynasties all the way back to the Warring states era also controlled the area, especially the south which was almost never inhabited by Manchus/Jurchens, as the Nurgan Military Commission and Liao-tung Commandery. I know you would probably attack me for this, so I won't be reading your replies. This couldn't have come at a worse time with the big new wave of outlandish denials from Japan's members of government.

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    1. I'm not going to "attack" you but most of your argument amounts to stating things that are frankly irrelevant when correct. Han and Manchu have been close, certainly, but that doesn't make them the same people nor was there a long history of Chinese rule over the region. Certain Manchu tribal rulers recognized the Emperor of China as their overlord but so did the rulers of places from Korea to Vietnam, that doesn't make these places part of China. The Manchu "Jin Empire" existed for over a century before being conquered by the Mongols. After that the Ming Emperor and the Koreans competed for influence among the Manchus most of which did end up paying tribute to the Ming but the Ming did not rule over them or control them.

      This is seen clearly in the "Seven Grievances" issued by Nurhaci, that the Ming had vassal-lord relationships with various local rulers. Nurhaci began as a vassal but united the Manchus, expelled Ming influence and founded his own independent empire which later when on to take control of the whole of China. Yes, the two peoples have always been very close but the Manchus did have their own state prior to becoming the Emperors of China. It was they who took control of China, not the Chinese who took control of Manchuria. The Chinese republic later took at least nominal control of it but that should be no more or less legitimate that the Japanese taking control of it by the same methods: military force.

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    2. I admit that many points were not that relevant, and I thank you for the well-written response, but what I wanted to offer was just some social perspectives. For example, the term "Manchuria" does not have an equivalent term in Manchu (which virtually all Manchus, who were scattered all over China, forgot how to speak by the 1780s) they called the place "Three Eastern Middle Kingdom Provinces", with no legal or administrative distinction from other provinces - which is why I found it strange to treat the Qing as a personal union - Qing emperors wrote declarations denying that and insisted (ironically against some Han opposition) that their whole realm is the Middle Kingdom, creating the slogans 内外一家 不分滿漢但問旗民 "inner and outer are one family, no difference between Han and Manchu, only between Banners and civilians". Of course before Qing establishment, the Jurchens (not yet manchus or "manchuria") were, for two brief years before starting to absorb massive numbers of Han, united as the "Jin-Chao"/"aisin gurun""the Gold Regime" - referencing a claim to China after the previous bunch of Jurchens who moved in and ended up assimilated. The Qing government themselves started settling Han in the Manchu-lands from the 1770s: Manchus were a minority in all urban areas by 1800, and a minority in the whole by the 1860s. Just seemed strange for a group that wanted to keep a separate country for themselves. I always saw the Qing as something more like Qajar Persia or Gurkani (Mughal) Hindustan of assimilated dynasties rather than Austria-Hungary.
      I also wanted to point out that southern third (Liao-tung) of the area now called "Manchuria" was Han-majority from before Qing times, the western third was Khorchin-Mongol, the majority of the original Jurchen lands now part of Russia, where the Ming built numerous fortress-towns deep among the migrations of the vassal nomads (unlike vassal states). Vassal tribes are of course very common in eastern Asia, e.g. SW China, Burma, NW Vietnam, Laos and Russian Asia covered with them - it's fundamentally difficult to shoehorn the arrangement into modern sovereignty concepts e.g. U.S. Native policy. Republics would, of course, be ultimately illegitimate regardless of territory discussed, but even if a new pure-native dynasty arose, we probably shouldn't be surprised if it immediately went on the warpath in all directions to restore the Celestial Empire.
      For Manchukuo, the Japanese, despite calling it "Manchu", insisted that the state was multi-ethnic, declaring that most Manchus there had no right to the land as they were migrants who for generations lived elsewhere, then slated the region for mass Japanese settlement. The national flag was copied off the Chinese Republic's flag complete with five ethnic groups being featured, yet no attempt was made to extend the Emperor's rule back to his birthplace but instead handing that over to no less than five republican puppet-governments - just doesn't seem legitimate to me. On the other hand, when Chiang chose to retreat, he was near-universally condemned even from his own party.
      The completely unnecessary 10-corner civil war from 1912-1949, Japanese taking the opportunity to attack and then ending up even worse with the commies was largely, I believe, because of the revolutionary fabrication that the Qing was somehow foreign when the majority originally supported the constitutional monarchist rebels.

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    3. The key point is that the nationalists did not resist the Japanese occupation of 1931, as you say, Chiang Kai-shek was criticized by many people for this, but that's what happened. The war did not start then as no significant resistance was offered for several years later. As for Japanese actions overall in regards to China, yes, Manchukuo was established as a multi-ethnic state and the Emperor was rather upset with the Japanese over not being restored as Emperor of the Great Qing as he had been before. However, in this regard, I think the Japanese were simply being realistic. Their "Reformed Government of China" was staunchly republican and was led by people who had opposed the monarchy. The Emperor was titled as Emperor of Manchukuo and Mongolia but any plan to include Outer Mongolia was thwarted by the Russian occupation of that country and they never reached more distant areas.

      The Qing Emperors, of course, encouraged the idea of unity when they were in power. That was in their interests and it was, as you say, the republican revolutionaries who really emphasized the Manchus as being foreigners which makes it rather hypocritical for these same people to then claim that the Manchus were Chinese when Japan came along. My point is that the Qing were ruling Manchuria and Mongolia before they ruled China and when the Chinese overthrew the Qing Dynasty the last Emperor should have been able to return to Manchuria and carry on with ruling the same territory that his ancestors Nurhaci and Hong Taiji had. That didn't happen though and now the Manchu people, for all intents and purposes, no longer exist anyway. So, none of this can be undone, the Qing Dynasty itself, because of the marriage policies of the PRC, is ethnically Han at this point. That is, again, impossible to change.

      The PRC government is therefore not doing any of this because they are worried about a revival of ethnic pride and Manchu nationalism or separatism -they no longer exist. What they are trying to do is re-write the history of communist involvement in the war with Japan and broaden the scope for anti-Japanese sentiment. This is important to them because the reverse is actually true. If the Japanese had not invaded China, if they had not fought a long war with the Kuomintang, it is highly unlikely that the Communist Party would be ruling China today.

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