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The Second World War remains a festering sore for China,
This review is from: China's War with Japan, 1937-1945: The Struggle for Survival (Hardcover)
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Even today it is plain to see that there is an `edge' to relations between China and Japan if not outright hostility at times. To better understand the present and future, it is wise appreciate what transpired in the Second World War between the nations. Mr Mitter's description and treatment is a list of sufferings, undergone by China that continues to haunt the region. For China and other neighbouring states the Second World War remains a festering sore that has never healed properly. Chinese protesters frequently take to the streets, protesting Japan's derisory acknowledgement of its wartime carnage in China and its claims to borderline islets in the East China Sea.
The author begins his study by delving into the history before the war. This is where European imperial powers had carved out `empire' and had left the country like patchwork quilt of war lords and inept government. Japan had had eyes on China for some time and their gradual encroachment began as far back as the later part of the 19th century. When total war finally arrives, there is ineptitude and poor military planning that serves the Chinese poorly, while the Japanese are well organised and superior in military hard ware, their air arm is unleashed upon the civilian population. As European outposts and vested interests fell like dominos in the Far East to the Japanese tsunami, the Chinese did resist and it had not been for this stubborn resolve, maybe the fate of India would have been much different.
The sad truth that is brought to the fore was as the Chinese were fighting the Japanese they also fighting amongst themselves over ideology and perceived treason. Apart from the occasional sounding from the League of Nations there was no help from the `West' in terms of arms, materials or strategy. When the West does take interest the relationship is both complex and compromised to certain degree by Imperialistic bigotry, these are just some the threads that run through book.
Mr Mitter's goes to primary sources as he uses journals to put a human face on the narrative by illustrating accounts of dread of air-raids, there is the contradiction of turncoats and the quick-witted desperation of refugees. There is of course the routine description of battles and engagements; whereas Chiang Kai-shek and his nationalist Kuomintang party tried to fight the Japanese by conventional means Mao's communist cadres used guerrilla tactics.
This is complex and at times hard to follow narrative, as you inundated with a lot of detail, which is no bad thing in its self. This weighty piece of research, that is worth reading as it deals with a part of terrible war that has, in a way, shaped China into the country it is today.