[[caption-width-right:350: Poster from the pro-Chinese [[note]] It Doesn't Last. [[/note]] (1937-44) phase of US propaganda [[note]] note the creators' decision to portray the Guomindang soldier with a field cap, rather than a straw hat (too large, civilian-looking, and 'foreign'/'culturally backwards') or a standard-issue ''Stahlhelm'' (one of several inconvenient relics of inter-war Sino-German cooperation). The field cap was also standard-issue headgear for most soldiers, as China didn't exactly have a helmet-making industry. [[/note]] ]]

->''"Future historians will, I believe, regard our War of Resistance as the most significant event in this period of world history, since by our enormous sacrifices we are contributing not only to the good of the Chinese nation but also to the welfare of all mankind. From now on, however, we must struggle even harder and must be ready for even greater sacrifices, in order that justice may be accomplished. The aims of our struggle are simple and clear. If we succeed we shall not only be able to build a new China but we shall also contribute immeasurably to the peace of the world."''
-->-- '''Generalissimo UsefulNotes/ChiangKaiShek''', ''Address to the nation on the 27th anniversary of the Republic of China, October 10th 1938''

The Second Sino-Japanese War was, right behind the [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarII Soviet-German War]], the biggest and most costly war in human history. It was fought by UsefulNotes/ImperialJapan against UsefulNotes/{{China}}, beginning in the summer of 1937[[note]]actual aggression started in 1931, with the Mukden incident[[/note]] and ending in the summer of 1945. The conflict was eventually eclipsed by WWII in 1939 and became part of the wider war in 1941, with China and Japan respectively joining the Allies and Axis, and ended with the complete surrender of Japan to the Allied powers. It was also the largest war ever fought in Asia, leaving some 5-15 million Chinese military and civilian dead [[note]] Frankly, this is just a guess based on the agricultural productivity of the land and the data from the first census (conducted in 1950). It's impossible to separate the 1937-45 dead from those who died in [[UsefulNotes/NoMoreEmperors the Chinese Civil War of 1946-50]]. Just like the Soviet Union and the numbers of people dead in UsefulNotes/WorldWarI and the [[UsefulNotes/RedOctober Russian Civil War]] (2 versus 8 million), Communist China also likes to 'shift' dead people from the Civil War to the Second Sino-Japanese War - neither country can/could afford to advertise the fact that people fought and died to keep them from coming to power. [[/note]] -- and just short of half a million Japanese military dead.

The war is still within living memory, and what successive generations have been taught about it is the subject of (fierce) controversy in East Asia. Generally speaking, nations best deal with shared negative experiences like war and imperialism when they treat the whole thing fairly impersonally, reach broad agreements on the rough facts of the matter without trying to demonize anyone, and do their best to move on. For example, Germany and Poland: whilst many Poles still don't ''forgive'' aspects of the conduct of Nazi Germany, most of today's Germans are sorry about what happened, and the great majority of Poles and Germans mutually regret the whole business and don't want that sort of thing to happen ever again between anyone, and like to leave it at that. [[FlameBait That's probably not going to happen any time soon with this]], [[EnforcedTrope not least because certain nationalist groups and even national governments aren't actually interested in reconciliation]]. Xenophobic hatred suits these people's interests because it fosters national unity and keeps their people's resentment focused outward.

ImperialJapan [[NotSoDifferent would have approved.]]

In 1949, after three years of Civil War and at least another half-dozen million dead, the Guomindang under UsefulNotes/ChiangKaiShek [[UsefulNotes/NoMoreEmperors lost its last major holdouts on the mainland]] and was reduced to just Chinese Central Asia (Xinjiang, Qinghai, etc) and the isles of Hainan and Taiwan. Their foe, the Communist Party of China under UsefulNotes/MaoZedong, proclaimed the establishment of a People's Republic of China on the First of October that year. The People's Republic soon reached a level of cultural understanding and reconciliation with Japan despite the differences in their ideologies [[note]]Communist China was ''[[SeriousBusiness very big]]'' on ideology, such that it was a major cause in itself for the Sino-Soviet Split[[/note]] and economic systems.

Throughout the '50s and '60s, Communist/'Mainland' China and Japan both blamed a small clique of Japanese militarist leaders for the war -- thereby leaving out the uncomfortable issue of the behaviour of Japanese troops, officers, and other military personnel -- and the Americans and British for The War. Communist China emphasized its own grass-roots patriotism and independence from the Soviets, also seeking to play up the -- actually very marginal -- actions of Maoists during the war. They also had to avoid mentioning the details of the actual war's conduct, since that would inevitably mean mentioning the Guomindang and the Warlords. This meshed well thematically with Communist China's other propaganda portraying all historical processes as being the product of grassroots peasant-proletarian struggle. While they were able to write the Warlords out of the war's history, they never felt able to completely deny the Guomindang's involvement and so instead worked to portray them as having been hopelessly corrupt, immoral, fascist, un-patriotic, traitorous puppets of the Americans. [[JerkassHasAPoint Of course, these criticisms had some basis in fact (especially after 1940)]].

This broad agreement on the "facts" of the matter changed in the '70s, when Japan became the world's no.2 economy and China -- which had broken rather messily with the Soviets -- normalised diplomatic and later economic and cultural relations with America. Japanese public opinion began dodging the uncomfortable aspects of the past by fudging some details and missing others, whilst playing up the suffering of the Japanese people as a result of the American fire-bombings, atomic bombings and ensuing occupation.

At roughly the same time, the Chinese Communists suddenly started to play up the foreign invasion angle of the war, demonising not just the Japanese military junta, but Japanese troops and the Japanese people generally. They also stopped portraying the Guomindang as American puppets (though they continued to assert that they were American puppets at-present), but continued to neglect their foes' critical contribution to the war effort whilst playing up their own part in resisting the "savage dwarf-pirates" -- to use a traditional racial slur.

This is more or less the status quo today, with the uncomfortable details of the war being glossed over or neglected entirely in Japan in favor of a victim narrative. As an example, in Hiroshima the Peace Memorial Museum's historical account begins with something like, "In the springtime of 1945, the U.S. Army Air Corps launched a campaign of firebombing against major cities in Japan..." with no mention of what might have happened beforehand or why. The museum attached to the Yasukuni Shrine (controversial in its own right due to the interning of war criminals there) explicitly lays out the "ABCD Theory" - that the Americans, British, Chinese and Dutch "forced" Japan into a war by monopolizing all the resources which Japan needed, and Japan would have starved if they didn't fight for what was "rightfully theirs."

The governments of the respective countries are not the only forces at work, however. Beginning in the late '70s and blossoming in the late '90s, neo-conservative nationalist groups in Japan have tried to emphasise the importance of giving the Japanese nation a positive, forward-looking outlook under the leadership of a strong centralised state. Of course, there is little room in this forward-looking narrative for dwelling on the past, especially the bad bits of it, and these groups think of the Second Sino-Japanese War as a war of Pan-Asian liberation from Western Imperialism. Likewise, they are quick to claim that Japanese atrocities have been massively exaggerated, and are based mostly on hearsay from anti-Japanese sources or fabricated wholesale, all in the name of shaming the Japanese people into being hesitant to form a strong state or military; with which, the foreigners fear, they might protect their own interests rather than remaining at the mercy of the foreign powers like America and China. [[note]] Of course, cheerfully ignoring the [[http://en.people.cn/200412/13/images/n4.jpg Japanese newspapers]] that actually reported THE NUMBER OF KILLS AS AN ACHIEVEMENT for two soldiers during the Nanjing Massacre, whether it actually happened or not. (106 and 105 killed between the two of them)[[/note]] Several textbooks have been written along just these lines, and are often singled out for criticism.

There are also differences in how history is taught in both nations. Japanese schools have a choice of around thirty to fifty textbooks, produced by various private companies, although subject to some editing and license requirements by the department of education. As one would expect, they vary in their portrayal of events; some are fairly objective, and others are ideologically charged. But when taken as a whole they have a readily apparent bias towards sanitising history, (quite a bit) more so than in contemporary Anglo-European textbooks. Schools in the People's Republic of China, on the other hand, use precisely ''one'' periodically-updated textbook written by the Department of Education itself. The Department of Education is not particularly bothered by historical 'objectivism', which they are quick to dismiss as an unattainable and self-contradictory British academic fad. The German-Polish approach is held up as the standard to aspire to with regards to uncomfortable history as the text seeks to inform and explore the issues at work in order to promote some measure of understanding and reconciliation.

Within the Western world, the entire war tends to be overlooked or gain only a brief mention, as Europe and America prefer to focus on the invasion of Poland onwards. Most high school students aren't really taught about China's involvement at all, especially during the height of the Cold War when Communist China was considered a major threat. This was further influenced by how the USA reestablished diplomatic relations with the PRC and put Taiwan on the sidelines, meaning that the GMD's efforts in fighting Japan went relatively unnoticed. In many history books about WW2, brief mentions of the Sino-Japanese war pop up every now and then, or get a small paragraph, but nothing is really explored in detail. That said, there has been an effort in recent years by Western historians to try and bring the Sino-Japanese war into public awareness. Some universities offer courses centering around the war, while books have been written about the GMD's involvement.

The war is still a very polarising event, and is certainly not a topic for polite conversation, unless you're with other historians.

[[caption-width-right:350: Japanese soldiers advance into Mukden, Manchuria, 1931]]

'''The [[UsefulNotes/{{Kotobagari}} Manchurian Incident]]''':\\
On September 18, 1931, near the city Mukden in Manchuria (today Shenyang), some dynamite exploded a few hundred meters from a railroad owned by Japan's South Manchuria Railway (which was [[BlatantLies totally not a false flag operation]]), causing no damage. The commanders of the now-famously insubordinate Japanese Kwantung Army, then in Korea, accused Chinese terrorists of committing this "act," in which nothing actually happened, and then used it as an excuse for the full-scale invasion of Manchuria. The civilian government in Tokyo was not consulted at all in this matter, but Emperor Hirohito quickly gave up on the idea of punishing the offenders, since at this point the civilian government was just a puppet of the [[UsefulNotes/KatanasOfTheRisingSun Imperial Japanese Army]], although the invasion of Manchuria was ''[[UpToEleven also]]'' precisely contrary to direct orders given to the Kwantung Army by the IJA high command in Tokyo.

The Kwantung Army then decided to set up a puppet government in the occupied north, called Manchukuo ("the Manchu State") and placed the [[Film/TheLastEmperor last emperor Pu Yi]] back on the throne. They weren't fooling anyone. The American media sarcastically called the new colony "Japanchukuo".

The League of Nations demanded that Japan withdraw its armies from Manchuria, but the Japanese public fully supported a war of expansionism in Asia. So the Japanese gave the international community the middle finger by withdrawing from the Security Council. This set the stage for an inevitable war, even though the Sino-Japanese War did not break out until 1937.

[[caption-width-right:350: Chinese newspaper reporting the Xian Incident, 1936]]

'''United Front:'''\\
By 1936, Generalissimo UsefulNotes/ChiangKaiShek (a.k.a. [[UsefulNotes/WhyMaoChangedHisName Jiang Jieshi]]) leader of the Chinese Guomindang (GMD or 'National[ist] Party') and commander-in-chief of the Chinese military, had (relatively) firm control over all the territory a hundred miles to either side of the Yangzi river. This was more (economically important) territory than any one Chinese warlord or government had controlled [[NoMoreEmperors since President-for-life Yuan Shikai died in 1916]].

In the years since the "Northern March" of 1927, wherein the Guomindang had taken control of the mid-lower Yangzi (chiefly Shanghai, Nanjing, and Wuhan) and established a base of power for itself, Chiang had done a lot to consolidate the party's hold on the country. He had managed this by fighting communism, 'fighting' communism [[note]] Bribing warlords into recognizing GMD rule [[/note]], and fighting "communism" [[note]] Using the GMD secret police under Dai Li to suppress any resistance to Chiang's government [[/note]] -- by taking over communist base areas in Jiangxi and Henan and Hunan provinces, by using the fight to unify the country and eliminate communism to smooth over political and ideological tensions within the party, and by using the pretext of eliminating communism to take over the rest of Hunan and Sichuan province. In 1936 Chiang was determined to eliminate the Communist Soviet in Yan'an province. Stationing so many troops in the area (for the offensive to crush the Soviet) meant he was able to find a use for and curb the influence of the wily and backstabbing Warlord Yan Xishan (who was based out of neighbouring Shanxi province) and other, smaller warlords. With troops in their backyard, he was able to bully them into contributing to the campaign. Moreover, when the Guomindang won (as it almost certainly would, in retrospect), it would give Chiang a good position from which he could eliminate them in the (near) future.

However, Chiang's chosen Operations Commander for the campaign -- Zhang Xueliang -- had an axe to grind. Manchuria and Japan's other client states in northern China had all been carved out of his territory. Zhang's father Zhang Zuolin had once ruled all the territory between Bejing and Harbin and had fought the Guomindang for control of the country; now, all he had were some troops and a few scattered figures (like Yan Xishan) who owed him their allegiance or shared his views. Zhang tried unsuccessfully to convince Chiang to join forces with the DirtyCommunists against Japan but the Generalissimo would have none of it, not least because Chiang believed (rightly) that A: The Guomindang could not win an open fight with Japan and B: that the Japanese wanted to disengage from China given the threat posed by the Soviet Union. Despite having sworn allegiance to Chiang, Zhang eventually came to the conclusion that he had to (as he put it) "keep China strong for the war with Japan".

Consequently, when Chiang turned up at Xi'an to observe Zhang's offensive, Zhang got his troops to slaughter Chiang's guards, kidnap him, and force him to negotiate with the communists at gunpoint. The Chinese Communist Party was contacted in secret and asked for a delegation to decide on the next step. After some deliberation, Chiang agreed to call off the offensive to crush the Yan'an Soviet and to establish a "united front" against Japan. Since Chiang was agreed to be the only man who could lead China in such a war, [[VetinariJobSecurity not at all coincidentally]], the man himself was released.

Chiang kept his word and forged the United Front. Zhang Xueliang was gaoled for life, but he became a national hero almost overnight as the urban Chinese public [[note]]Chiang insisted that there should be no talk of war with Japan, as he knew fine well that the Guomindang was too weak to take Japan on and win, and he didn't want to be the one who started it.[[/note]] was just ''itching'' for a war with Japan.

[[caption-width-right:350: Chinese soldiers of the 29th Route Army at the Marco Polo bridge, July 1937]]

'''A Game of Marco Polo:'''\\
Though Japan was still a jingoistic military dictatorship, saner heads had just begun to prevail in the year of 1937. Unfortunately, neither they nor Chiang could control the troops involved along their mutual border around UsefulNotes/{{Beijing}}; though they had control of the city itself, the Guomindang's control of the surrounding countryside was contested by Yan Xishan and other warlords, and Japan's Kwantung (Guandong) Army was notoriously independent-minded (they were the ones who arranged the "Manchurian Incident").

During the night of July 7, a Japanese soldier went missing during night-exercises near the Marco Polo bridge on the Manchukuo-China border (named so after the traditional belief that Creator/MarcoPolo crossed it on his way into Beijing). When he still hadn't turned up in the morning, the Japanese forces demanded the right to search the city. The Guomindang commander refused to let them in and warned them off with shots, which turned into a firefight, which culminated in a full-scale battle with tanks and artillery.

Both Chiang and Tokyo quickly exchanged apologies for the incident and tried to avoid antagonising each other, but then other firefights broke out all along the border and before long the two states were at an undeclared, ''de facto'' state of war.

[[caption-width-right:330: Japanese soldiers in Shanghai, 1937]]

'''The Battle of Shanghai:'''\\
The warlords of Shandong province soon gave up without a fight, and Yan Xishan's forces were unable to offer effective resistance either. Chiang sent some of his own troops to shore them up, but it was soon clear that the North China plain would probably be lost if the Japanese fueled their offensive "push" with fresh men redeployed from their border with the Soviets. Thus, Chiang decided to take the Japanese concession in Shanghai to open a "Second Front" that would slow Japan's southwards offensive and let him fight the Japanese on the closest thing he could get to an even footing -- though the Japanese would have overwhelming supremacy in airpower and naval and land-based artillery, fighting within the city would hopefully negate these advantages enough for the Guomindang to win an important victory there.

It didn't work out. After a three-month battle involving a million men, the Guomindang had lost some 300,000 casualties, lost half the literate and academy-trained officer corps, and the city... and Nanjing, the Capital, would have to be abandoned too as it was totally indefensible. Most of Chiang Kai-Shek's half-million elite [[ThoseWackyNazis German-trained and equipped troops]], the veterans of a decade of warfare, are dead -- in combat, or of their wounds, or of disease -- or captured. The battle also took a terrible toll on the Guomindang's tiny and outdated air forces, which were practically irreplaceable since China produced no planes of her own.

The only positive things about this crushing defeat were that it gave the Guomindang time to move most of the lower Yangzi delta's factories and plants upstream to the mid- and upper-Yangzi, where they would be safe (albeit under-supplied with raw materials) and raised foreign sympathy for China, especially from the USA. The Japanese forces involved at Shanghai were traumatised, furious, and hell-bent on vengeance after so much cheeky, insubordinate, and unforgiveable resistance by their racial inferiors.

[[caption-width-right:350: Japanese soldiers using Chinese [=POWs=] for bayonet practice, Nanjing, January 1938]]

'''The Rape of Nanking:'''\\
Nanjing, or Nanking as it was called back then, China's "Southern Capital", was the Guomindang's centre of administration, and by extension the Capital City of China. Once word spread that Shanghai was lost, the GMD government fled from the city -- it was clear to everyone that Nanjing was a sitting duck. As the Japanese ground forces made their way to Nanjing, their air force began bombing the capital. Nanjing's defenses had several weaknesses, due to the breakdown of morale among the retreating soldiers from the battle outside the city walls. The US State Department ordered the American Embassy evacuated, and the US Navy sent the Yangtze River Patrol boat USS ''Panay'' upstream from Shanghai to get them out. The Japanese were quite familiar with the YRP, and allowed the American boat upstream unmolested, but on December 12th, as ''Panay'' headed back downstream, Japanese bombers appeared overhead. A news crew was aboard, and filmed the Japanese planes as they orbited for several minutes, confirmed the gunboat's identity, then attacked. ''Panay'' was sunk, 3 American Sailors killed, and 43 more wounded. Though hunted by the Japanese, the survivors were rescued by GMD soldiers and conveyed back to the Shanghai International Zone. The Japanese government would claim [[BlatantLies that the unprovoked attack was the result of mistaken identity, poor communication, and poor visibility.]] Despite a brief public outcry, the Roosevelt administration accepted the excuse and seized the footage of the incident, which showed clear skies and highly-visible American flags flying from the gunboat's masts.

Nanjing fell on December 13th, and opened its gates for the Japanese expeditionary force. Someone -- either the forces' commander, Crown Prince Asaka or one of his aides -- issued an order: "KILL ALL CAPTIVES." And so the Nanjing Massacre... occurred. It's also been given the cheerful moniker [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin the Rape of Nanking]]... because of the mass rapes, you see. The official Japanese death toll was about 2000, but we're pretty sure that 200,000 civilians and a few [=POWs=] were killed during the course of it. Given that there were only a hundred thousand or so Japanese soldiers in and around the city at the time, this disproves the notion that each one massacred a small mountain of innocent civilians by themselves. The participation of most soldiers in the event was restricted to looting, or wisecracking as your mates tortured someone to death or shot some random people in the street on a whim, and finding someone to rape with thirty of your best friends. Now we know what you're thinking: "being raped by thirty-plus people, ''even if it does'' happen every day for a week, doesn't kill you!" That's true. But unfortunately, most Japanese soldiers "forgot" to feed the civilians they restrained for such purposes... and they had a nasty of habit of killing their playthings when they were bored with them.

The IJA's Military Police were solely concerned with rooting out Communism and internal dissent, and so didn't even try to restrain the rank-and-file as they basically did whatever they wanted. There was a little bit of official involvement in the whole thing, of course, (apart from the "Kill all captives" and "let's all look the other way" things) when it came to killing all the [=POWs=] captured in the battles for Shanghai and Nanjing and in supervising the creation of Army brothels, using captured women as unpaid prostitutes for Japanese conscripts, aside from feeding them. There weren't that many of them, though, just a few thousand "employees" at a time (though the turnover was high due to suicide and other cheery things). While the looting was fairly harmless, as we mentioned before, not as many livelihoods as you might expect were destroyed by it -- while not ''all'' of the former owners were dead, of course, many if not most ''were''. The complete breakdown of law and order continued for about six weeks, when it just sort of petered out what with the place being a Ghost City and barely any live females left outside the army brothels. And the conditions inside the brothels were... [[note]] One woman described her experience of being raped by an entire platoon every morning, each soldier's "turn" lasting for a few minutes before the next in line, ostensibly to "boost their spirits". Yes, they set up mass rape stations where people lined up to rape someone. [[/note]]

These atrocities are ''still'' denied by certain Japanese ultra-nationalists, to the understandable [[BerserkButton anger]] of... well, pretty much anyone with a heart, but especially ethnic-Chinese folk. This is despite the mountains of sickening images [[note]] Such as [[http://ww2db.com/image.php?image_id=8451 this grinning maniac with a sword]] [[/note]], newspaper articles, and letters home[[note]]"Hey, mum! Guess how many elderly female subhuman scum I stabbed to death with that knife you sent me for my birthday today?"[[/note]] from the perpetrators themselves.

The massacre caused a rare CrowningMomentOfAwesome for a citizen of UsefulNotes/NaziGermany -- John Rabe, a businessman and diplomat, opened the German embassy (which as German soil was in theory sacrosanct to Japanese incursion) to tens of thousands of refugees who were sheltered inside. For this he's acquired the moniker '[[TokenGoodTeammate The Good Nazi']], a title he shares with [[Film/SchindlersList Oskar Schindler.]] His is the only German name most Chinese schoolchildren know (apart from/including [[UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler Hitler]]).

Perhaps most importantly of all, the Japanese intended to use the massacre as a threat. [[SarcasmMode Surprisingly]], all it did was piss off China even more. From ordinary citizens to warlords, people were horrified and angry enough that the GMD, Chinese Communists and the warlords put all their violent feuds aside to seriously unite against Japan. The GMD's propaganda department swept into action, churning out anti-Japanese works while public protests against the Japanese began in China's inner regions.

[[caption-width-right:350: Chinese soldiers crossing the Yellow River after its dykes have been blown, 1938]]

'''The Flood:'''\\

Despite an impassioned but poorly-coordinated defense by Guomindang and Guangxi-Clique troops around Zhengzhou - where the Beijing-Nanjing railroad met the line coming from Shandong - the North China Plain was lost in its entirety. Yan Xishan fled into the hills of Shanxi province but maintained close ties with a collaborationist regime in the city of Taiyuan, and the Guomindang set up numerous partisan units and guerilla lines to operate behind Japanese lines. However, the speed of the Japanese advance was disastrous. With Guomindang-Guangxi Clique forces in full retreat and Japanese forces threatening to link up with forces advancing northward from Nanjing to encircle and capture most if not all of them (and certainly losing all their literally irreplaceable heavy equipment and weapons), Chiang took the decision to blow the dykes of the Yellow River and flood the North China Plain.

It worked, but cost up to 2 million people their lives - mostly from water-borne diseases like dysentry (one of the many pleasant things you get when you drink water that has dead things/shit in it), starvation-related diseases in the months that followed when they starved because their crops were washed away or rotted because they were immersed in water or withered and died from lack of water. Some have blamed the Guomindang for not providing humanitarian aid to the victims, and that this treatment was especially cold given that it was their fault it happened in the first place, but Chiang's choice was simple: help them and invalidate the reason he'd done it in the first place (as well as encouraging Imperial Japan to do this kind of thing themselves in future so Chiang's regime would exhaust itself trying to save everyone), or keep going and try to drag out the war. One might well ask why Japan did nothing to help the victims either, given how they were always talking about how they were in China for the Chinese people's own good. Anyhow, the whole 'artificial flood' thing turned a panicked rout into an orderly retreat (for lack of a Japanese pursuit) and slowed the Japanese advance for as much as six months as they first scrambled to recover their pursuit forces before they starved to death/died of dysentry and then had to find enough pack animals to replace all the ones they had lost in the flooding as well as repair all the railway and telegraph lines.

Chiang relocated the capital first to Wuhan on the mid-Yangzi, where he called a conference with all the Guomindang leaders and Warlords (who nominally overlapped) of China. In it, against the wishes of Wang Jingwei and others who thought that further war was pointless and would result in even greater suffering, he persuaded them that fighting the war to the end was not only the only politically-acceptable course of action but also the only morally justifiable one. Chiang then publicly stated that China would keep fighting until Japan was defeated (with the unlikely entry of the USSR/USA into the war) or (inevitable without foreign intervention, though this went unsaid) the Guomindang was totally destroyed.

[[caption-width-right:350: Chinese soldiers during house-to-house fighting at the Battle of Taierzhuang, 1938]]

'''Missing Years''':\\

Much as with the second half of the Soviet-German War (1942-45), the major combat operations of 1938-1941 (including the Chinese victory at Taierzhuang in 1938, two of the titanic battles of Changsha in 1939 and 1941, plus the 1938 Battle of Wuhan) are usually 'lost' to common knowledge. These are glossed over for three reasons: 1) the Chinese Communist Party played no role in them, 2) nobody cares what the Guomindang/Taiwan have to say about them, and 3) Japan likes to pretend they didn't happen. Suffice it to say that although Wuhan was captured, Changsha wasn't. The campaigns did however help bleed the Guomindang dry and very nearly cut their rail-links with the Guangxi Clique (at Changsha). China also saw her Darkest Hour upon the withdrawal of Soviet financial and material aid in 1940 (but not technical aid). This was done as the Soviet armament drive began in earnest.

However, the victory at Taierzhuang, the first Chinese victory ''since the war began'', greatly boosted Chinese morale. It was also the first battle to prove that Chinese troops ''could'' take on a technologically advanced force and win. Large amounts of Japanese equipment were captured, while the Japanese military no longer seemed invincible to the international community. Naturally, the humiliated Japanese military attempted to brush it off, but China and other international newspapers reported it to the rest of the world. Although Chinese forces still suffered near-constant defeats, the two successful defenses at Changsha helped keep morale up, at least for a while longer.

After Wuhan fell, the GMD relocated to Chongqing, a major hillside city in Sichuan. Millions of refugees streamed into the city, as well as entire factories and a few mines disassembled in their entirety, hauled a thousand miles upriver by wooden boats and ox-hauled carts. Chongqing would remain the wartime capital of Chiang Kai-shek until 1945. Although less developed than Shanghai or Nanjing, the city still managed to hold out. Air raid shelters were carved out of mountains in Chongqing, while factory machinery was rebuilt, retooled for war production and moved underground.

With casualties rapidly increasing on the Japanese side, their air force concentrated on carpet bombing of major cities to break Chinese morale. Chongqing still holds the sad distinction of being the most heavily bombed city in the world (if only because, unlike Hamburg or Nagoya, it wasn't destroyed in a single night of intense bombing but instead whittled away steadily over the course of seven years).

[[caption-width-right:350: Chinese soldiers at the Second Battle of Changsha, September 1941]]

'''Competing Strategies''':\\

China had two basic advantages -- its an enormous country, with the world's largest population. From the very beginning the Japanese occupation forces were drowning in a sea of hostile humanity which they could barely interact with due to Japanese xenophobia and nationalism. Very few Japanese learned a foreign language - not even French or English - because it was a sign of possible 'unpatriotic tendencies'. But worse, the Japanese very quickly pissed off pretty much ''everybody'' through the sheer and pointless brutality and cruelty of their troops. So from the very beginning, the Japanese occupation was something of a joke: every level of government in the occupied territories was riddled with Guomindang and Warlord (and later, Communist) spies and guerrillas. Despite the Guomindang's total inability to break Japanese military codes, or even intercept their wireless messages at all in many cases (due to a lack of powerful radio transmitters and receivers), they usually knew pretty much everything the Japanese were up to anyway, as the situation was just that bad.

For most of the war, Chinese soldiers were terribly outgunned compared to the Japanese, yet they admirably fought one of the most powerful military forces in Asia to a stalemate. Typically, Chinese soldiers were armed with bolt-action Type 24 Mauser rifles, [=HY1935=] sword bayonets and Type 23 stick grenades. Warlord troops often carried a Dadao sword, as many only had a handful of ammunition for their rifles. Officers were armed with Mauser C96 pistols, sometimes with a shoulder stock (as seen above). A Chinese platoon had one light machine gun on average, usually a ZB vz.26, and a battalion only had one heavy machine gun, usually the Type 24 Maxim [[note]] Chinese copy of the DWM [=MG08=] [[/note]] or the Type 30 [[note]] Chinese copy of the Browning M1917 [[/note]]. This meant that banzai charges often inflicted heavy casualties on Chinese defenders, even if they outnumbered the Japanese attackers. Most divisions had no support artillery at all, and mortars were in short supply. Meanwhile, the Japanese were not only well-supplied, but tended to back up their attacks with artillery and airplanes, which the Chinese defenders had to repel with bullets and grenades. Equipment losses were also high enough that a large amount of Chinese equipment in the field was captured from the Japanese, such as sword bayonets and combat webbing. Yet, China's massive manpower pool meant that GMD forces still outnumbered the Japanese, letting them continue fighting despite frequent defeats.

During this period, the CCP kept [[TheUriahGambit their truce]] with Chiang to... sit back and let the GMD soak up the damage. While the CCP did engage in isolated guerrilla battles against the IJA, it also attempted to preserve resources and avoid heavy engagements with Japan or her puppet regimes, and did its best to undermine Guomindang-backed warlords and independent guerilla groups behind Japanese lines, using their network of spies and sympathisers to tell the occupation forces who they where and where to find them (while maintaining plausible deniability and avoiding looking like they were directly fighting non-CCP Chinese resistance groups). Only recently has the [[RedChina People's Republic of China]] begun to admit that the Guomindang actually did anything at all to fight the Japanese, though it still maintains that the CCP did the brunt of the fighting, when in reality, being a peasant-based guerrilla army consisting of light infantry, the overall contributions of the CCP towards winning the war is rather limited,[[note]]This issue is still hotly debated among Chinese historians. Traditionally, Maoist propaganda depicted the KMT military as more interested in attacking the CCP than fighting the Japanese. With a change of political climate however, the current Chinese government now acknowledges the contributions of KMT generals in an effort to promote Chinese nationalism against supporters of Taiwanese independence. Meanwhile, Taiwanese historians rarely acknowledge the CCP's contributions, such as the Battle of Pingxingguan.[[/note]] except when Stalin bullied them into committing forces (in the short-lived 'Hundred Regiments Offensive') to save the Guomindang's hide in 1940, when the latter was on the verge of collapse. The CCP's leader, [[UsefulNotes/MaoZedong Mao]] [[FromNobodyToNightmare something]], used this failure to further undermine the pro-Soviet faction within the CCP and assert his own independence from Moscow - resuming his truce with the Japanese to focus on turning the entire countryside under nominal Japanese occupation into one gigantic Communist Soviet so that either A) when the Guomindang was destroyed the CCP could eventually come to power by taking over Wang Jingwei's government (ideally Japan would be busy fighting someone else, e.g. the USSR, by then) or B) the CCP could beat a critically-weakened Guomindang in a continuation of The Civil War.

As of December 1941, the Second Sino-Japanese War merged with UsefulNotes/WorldWarII and the Republic of China joined The Allies. Japan still controlled the cities and railway lines in coastal China, but basically had no power over the areas more than a day's march (c.30 km) from the nearest railway line, canal, or river.

[[caption-width-right:350: Wang Jingwei (right) meeting with Hideki Tojo, 1943]]

'''Puppet States:'''\\
As in Manchuria, the Japanese created puppet states in China to help facilitate and legitimize their rule. One was created soon after the Marco Polo Bridge attack, inside Inner Mongolia. A nationalist official-turned-collaborator, [[TheQuisling Wang Jingwei]], agreed to help the Japanese set up a Chinese puppet state based in Nanjing. To put on an image of legitimacy, Wang's regime used the same flag and sun symbol as the old government. The Japanese also set up warlords to rule over the other parts of the huge country. LesCollaborateurs had little power, and though they were allowed to have their own troops, these were in turn commanded by Japanese overseers. Almost a million Chinese [=POWs=] were forced to join the collaborator army (as garrison troops, as they were too unreliable to be used as cannon-fodder against the Guomindang, but they proved a serious threat to Chinese guerrilla fighters).

[[caption-width-right:350: A Chinese soldier (and his Type 24 rifle) guarding American planes]]

'''Allied Cooperation:'''\\

For three years after the outbreak of the Pacific War, the Chinese managed to fight the Japanese into an exhausted stalemate. Japan's invasion had bogged down by 1938, and despite further major campaigns in 1939-40 they were unable to achieve a decisive victory despite dedicating the majority of their troops and resources to the China front. However, Japan had managed to seize the British and Dutch colonies in Southeast Asia, and were now trying to push into India through Burma, with Commonwealth forces desperately trying to hold them back.

As part of the Allies, American lend-lease aid flooded into China. China received machine guns, artillery and other equipment in fairly large numbers, as well as a large amount of technical advisors. The Chinese air force was also undergoing serious development thanks to the efforts of Claire Lee Chennault, a retired USAAF officer, and his group of American mercenary pilots, the Flying Tigers. Flying P-40 Warhawks, the Tigers were very successful, shooting down 296 at the loss of 16 of their own. On 4th July, 1942, the Tigers were disbanded and replaced with the 23rd Fighter Group of the American air force, with more American pilots coming in as the war went on.

Meanwhile, Burma was vital to the Chinese war effort for one reason-it was practically their most important supply route. Thanks to the Japanese controlling all the ports, the GMD was effectively landlocked and cut off from the outside world. They needed petrol, machine tools and military supplies, plus a way to export tea and other raw materials in exchange. The only trade routes were through camel caravan in the Gobi desert, or the 'Burma Road', a single road running through British Burma into China. Chinese construction efforts and American trucks helped China get supplies and export goods through the road until the Japanese cut it off. The only alternative was to fly supplies over 'the Hump', or the eastern end of the Himalayas, via military transport aircraft. It was a difficult and dangerous operation, with frequent snowstorms, and the American pilots who performed the task were greatly admired. A few Chinese divisions also fought in Burma, the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/X_Force X Force]] and [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Y_Force Y Force]]. Trained by the British and the Americans, and commanded by two of the GMD's most talented generals, Virginia Military Institute alumnus Sun Li-Jen and Whampoa Academy star Du Yuming, X and Y-Force earned the respect of their British and American allies.

China also gained two American military advisors throughout the war. The first and most infamous was General Joseph Stilwell, aka "Vinegar Joe" for his caustic personality. Historians have assessed Stilwell in recent years, and it's safe to say that he did arguably more harm than good during his time in China. Basically, Stilwell-despite making some boneheaded moves as a military leader-was angered by the corruption and 'oriental incompetence' of the GMD. Stilwell thought the best way to fix it was to put himself in charge of ''all'' ground forces in China, arm them with American weapons and slowly drive the Japanese back through offensives. Chiang, who knew the weaknesses of his army too well, wanted to remain commander-in-chief as China's Generalissimo and preferred to keep China on the defensive, disagreed.

Stilwell's response was to send extremely negative reports back to America that exaggerated GMD failures (such as Chiang refusing to send reinforcements in Burma, when Chiang had actually sent 10,000 men and the 200th Division), plus ranting in his diary and letters to his wife about besting "the peanut" as he called Chiang. Stilwell also had a nasty rivalry with Chennault. Chennault was full of praise for Chiang, while Stilwell increasingly loathed the Generalissimo as the war went on. Stilwell also believed that China could crush Japan through the power of well-trained ground troops, while Chennault believed air support was vital for turning the tide. This resulted in nasty incidents where Chennault pleaded for reinforcements in desperate battles, with Stilwell refusing to send any. Stilwell's cushy relationship with the press didn't help matters either, and the US government's confidence in China began to decrease, although aid still arrived and the American public remained sympathetic to China's plight.

On the other hand, Stilwell did have a few good traits. He was excellent at training troops, very fluent in Mandarin and got along wonderfully with the Chinese soldiers he commanded, plus maintaining a good friendship with William Slim, the brilliant British commander in Burma and Sun Li-jen as well. All three men trusted each other greatly and got along very nicely. But his worsening relations with Chiang lead to his recall in 1944, and his replacement by Albert Wedemeyer. Wedemeyer was far less toxic than Stilwell, and openly cooperated with Chiang. He continued Stilwell's programs to modernize the Chinese army, as well as securing more transport aircraft and helping supply airlift operations over the Hump.

[[caption-width-right:350: Japanese soldiers advance during Operation Ichi-Go, 1944]]


In 1944, while the naval war raged across the Pacific, the Japanese commanders in China decided to launch Operation Ichigo ("number one"). The main objectives were to seize the southern provinces of Hunan and Guangxi, the centers of Chinese resistance. If the NRA could be finally defeated in the field, the Japanese could then advance upriver to the ROC capital at Chongqing, ending the war in China. The secondary objective of the offensive was to destroy the allied airbases in Hunan and Guangxi, which were being used by American planes to harass Japanese bombers and disrupt the IJA's overstretched supply lines. Ichigo was the largest Japanese ground offensive of the entire war, and involved over 500,000 Japanese and 400,000 Allied troops. The GMD was caught by surprise, losing Changsha, Guilin, Liuzhou and Henan, and the airfields were either captured or evacuated, but the NRA managed to hold out by virtue of American training and lend-lease equipment, which had by this time made good on the GMD's losses at Shanghai. Operation Ichigo was a mixed success, but the course of the war had already been decided by events elsewhere.

Ichigo was the last successful Japanese offensive. Even as it drew to a close, Japanese cities were being fire-bombed by the American air force, who had moved their airbases to the Marianas. Even the lowest Japanese grunt knew the war was lost, but surrender was unthinkable. Three generals launched one last, desperate offensive into Sichuan, but were beaten back by the Chinese.

[[caption-width-right:350: Soviet T-34-85 tanks in northeastern China, August 1945]]

'''The Final Years:'''

As China slowly began to get the upper hand in battles, partially due to American air support, the Allied leaders then issued a final ultimatum that demanded the unconditional surrender of Japan on threat of [[NukeEm "utter destruction"]]. Given the numbers of Japanese civilian dead and the way the Third Reich had just gone down, High Command didn't expect for a moment this would actually work and had been planning an amphibious invasion of the Japanese Home Islands -- Operation Downfall -- which was set to begin in October. Naturally, Japan refused to surrender. [[UsefulNotes/AtomicBombingsOfHiroshimaAndNagasaki The USAAF then dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki]].

The Soviet Union entered the war [[NoKillLikeOverkill the same week]] and in just two weeks captured the whole of Manchuria and more than a million IJA troops, breaking the back of the Japanese Army. Meanwhile, the Guangxi Clique had managed to take back Guangxi and forward elements of their forces managed to make it to Guangzhou/Hong Kong - prompting The Commonwealth to send an emergency task-force from Australia to take it from the token Japanese force that held it before the GMD got there - and the Guomindang as a whole were preparing for an all-out offensive down the Yangzi to prevent the Soviets from getting there first... when to everyone's astonishment, [[ImpossibleTask Japan surrendered.]]

!!Works set in this period:

[[AC:Anime and Manga]]
* The manga ''Kuni ga Moeru'', about a bureaucrat in UsefulNotes/ImperialJapan during the war. The first (and only) Japanese manga to depict the Rape of Nanking in graphic detail, it kicked off a massive controversy.
* Creator/OsamuTezuka's manga ''Phoenix'' is about Japanese soldiers during this war, searching for the eponymous magic bird in China (while presumably committing war crimes on the way). Sadly, it was never finished due to AuthorExistenceFailure.
* The manga ''Ron'' by Motoka Murakami, author of ''Manga/{{Jin}}''.
* The anime ''Anime/NightRaid1931'' is about a group of Japanese spies in China, 1931, and its plot involves the events leading up to the war, from the Mukden Incident to the creation of the Manchukuo puppet government. Notably it avoids Japanese jingoism and revisionism.
* Most of ''Zipang'' does not take place in China, but events in China form a critical background to its plot (much more important in the manga version than the incomplete anime version.) Anime viewers are treated to a GeniusBonus in the form of General Ishihara, who had complex schemes in real life concerning Manchuria that ran somewhat contrary to the more militant Japanese leaders but were still exploitative and imperialistic from the perspective of the subject peoples, who plays an important if subdued role. Unfortunately, the continuation of the anime series into the Manchuarian plots was never produced.

[[AC:Comic Books]]
* Franchise/{{Tintin}}'s adventure ''[[Recap/TintinTheBlueLotus The Blue Lotus]]'' depicts the Japanese encroachment on China in the [[TheThirties 1930s]].
* Several of the early adventures of ''ComicBook/BuckDanny'' are set in wartime China.
* The Italian comic book ''ComicBook/{{Lilith}}'' has its titular time travel visit the Rape of Nanjing in one volume.
* Referenced in ''ComicBook/RequiemVampireKnight'' Vol. 9, where a Japanese soldier that participated in the Nanking Massacre reincarnates as a vampire samurai and he gets challenged by a Chinese ghoul that had his family murdered by him.
* An issue of Hellblazer has John Constantine dealing with the ghost of a recently deceased Unit 731 scientist. The ghost relates all manner of For the Evulz stories about the pointless 'experiments' he and his colleagues had done, although the art (thankfully) doesn't go into too much detail. He even preempts the question of "why?" or "How would this help you win the war?" by explaining "You have to understand; we were insane." His last request is that he wants to die being vivisected by John using his rusty wartime surgical implements before moving on, not for absolution, but because he feels it would be appropriate.

[[AC:Comic Strips]]
* ''ComicStrip/TerryAndThePirates''

* ''Film/LustCaution'', about a plot to assassinate a pro-Japanese collaborator in occupied Shanghai.
* ''Film/CityOfLifeAndDeath'', a drama film set during the Nanking Massacre.
* ''Film/EmpireOfTheSun'' by J.G. Ballard (and the movie based on it) is about the author's childhood inside a Japanese prison camp for Western civilians.
* ''Film/MenBehindTheSun'', an extremely gory Chinese "[[ExploitationFilm documentary]]" about Unit 731's inhumane experiments, apparently made with recovered Japanese lab notes. From the same director comes ''Black Sun: Nanking'' is a TorturePorn ExploitationFilm about, well, the Rape of Nanking.
* ''Flying Tigers'', a 1942 war film centering around the mercenary pilots, starring John Wayne.
* ''[[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iww_Psy4QHo The Battle of China]]'' is a 1944 propaganda documentary by Frank Capra with first-rate footage of the war.
* ''Seven Man Army'' (八道樓子) is a 1976 UsefulNotes/HongKong Shaw Brothers film about the defense of the Great Wall in the early stages of the war.
* Creator/ZhangYimou's directorial debut, ''Red Sorghum'', is set at a sorghum-liquor distillery in the middle of the war. His epic ''To Live'' touches on it briefly, but focuses more on the UsefulNotes/ChineseCivilWar and [[RedChina what came afterward]].
* Creator/ZhangYimou's ''Film/FlowersOfWar'' a.k.a. ''Nanjing Heroes'', set during the Rape of Nanking. Creator/ChristianBale plays an American mortician who helps to protect a group of Catholic schoolgirls and an equal number of Chinese prostitutes from the invading Japanese army.
* Chen Kaige's own directorial debut, ''Yellow Earth'', is set in a remote rural region in 1939.
* Jiang Wen's ''Devils on the Doorstep'' (鬼子来了) takes place in northern China in the last phase of the war.
* ''The Children of Huang Shi'' deals with the evacuation to safety of orphaned Chinese children by two Westerners during the war.
* ''Purple Sunset'' is about a Chinese man and a Russian woman taking revenge on the Japanese.
* ''Philosophy of a Knife'' is an infamously violent and graphic Russian horror film/mockumentary about Unit 731, with real interviews mixed in.
* ''Film/IpMan'' is a martial arts film VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory about Ip Man (Creator/BruceLee's teacher) and his experiences during the Japanese occupation of China.
* ''Film/TheGoodTheBadTheWeird'' is focused on Korean exiles in Manchuria during the war (no later than 1941).
* ''Film/WildRose'' is a 1932 Chinese film made right after the Japanese incursion into Manchuria, in order to encourage Chinese patriotism and resistance to the Japanese. At the end all the main characters join the army.
* ''Film/ThirtySecondsOverTokyo'' centers around the Doolittle Raid, an American bombing raid on Tokyo that ended in the bombers crash landing on the Chinese coast, with most of the pilots rescued by Chinese guerrillas.

* ''Literature/TheGirlWhoPlayedGo'' is about a relationship between a Chinese girl and a Japanese officer in the early stages of the war.
* ''The Rape of Nanking'' by Iris Chang, which popularized the term. Provides much historical information about this event. Unfortunately, she committed suicide a few years after writing it.
* ''The Corps'' series by WEB Griffin begins in the Shanghai International Zone in late 1940, and follows several officers and enlisted men of the 4th Marines stationed there, particularly Corporal Kenneth "Killer" [=McCoy=], a young Marine [[{{Omniglot}} fluent in Japanese, Italian, French, and several Chinese dialects]] as he conducts intelligence operations in and around the city. Japanese atrocities, the lawless nature of much of the Chinese countryside, and the tensions between American, British, and Japanese forces (as well as Chinese locals) on the eve of WWII are described in detail. The series follows [=McCoy=] and several other Marines through WWII and eventually to the Korean War, where they are involved in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir fighting the Red Chinese.
* ''Dragon Seed'' by Pearl Buck.
* ''Literature/ShanghaiGirls'' starts out in this period. It is about wealthy sisters Pearl and May Chin who find out that their father lost all of their money and they are forced to move to America.
* ''Forgotten Ally'' / ''China's War with Japan'' by Rana Mitter, which revealed the GMD's huge role in fighting the Japanese (which has been often overlooked by WW2 historians), evaluates China's role in WW2 as an Allied power and sheds new light on how the Nationalists operated as a government.