Chinese people’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression belongs to China and also the world

By GAO SHIHUA / 09-30-2020 / (Chinese Social Sciences Today)

A commemoration for the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War is held at the Museum of the War of Chinese People’s Resistance Against Japanese Aggression in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 3, 2020.  Photo: Zhang Ling/XINHUA

The Anti-Fascist War that ended 75 years ago is a war of unprecedented scale in human history. The flames of war raged across Asia, Europe, Africa and Oceania and more than 80 countries and regions  and involved around 2 billion people. Led by Germany, Italy and Japan, it was a world-scale catastrophe. As Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out, “In that tragic war, Chinese people’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression began the earliest and lasted the longest. In face of the invaders, Chinese people fought with perseverance and tenacity in the bloody battle. The victory over Japanese militarist invaders safeguarded the more than 5000 years’ civilization of the Chinese nation and the cause of human peace.”
Indeed, the Anti-Japanese War is not only of great significance to the emancipation of the Chinese nation, but also vital to human civilization and safeguarding world peace. The great war belongs to China and also to the world.
On Sept. 3, 2020, in his speech at the forum commemorating the 75th anniversary of the victory of the Chinese people’s War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War, Xi pointed out that the war is “a turning point in the history of the Chinese nation, which led it out from the abyss of a modern crisis to a great rejuvenation. It is a victory for the Chinese people and a victory for the people of the world.” Chairman Mao Zedong once pointed out in 1939 that “the great anti-Japanese war is not only a matter of China, of the East, but also of the world... Our enemy is an enemy faced by the whole world, and China’s war of resistance is a worldwide war of resistance.” 
The impact of the Japanese war of aggression against China is worldwide. The September 18 Incident was not an isolated event—it caused reactions not only in Asia but also around the world. This was the first time that a country had used strong military means to resolve transnational disputes since the end of World War I in 1918. The actions that day broke the fragile world peace. The mediation of the international alliance did not play its due role, and the United States, Britain, France and other Western powers were helpless. Encouraged by this precedent, Italy invaded Abyssinia (now Ethiopia) in 1935, and Germany and Italy intervened in the Spanish civil war with military force in 1936. Large-scale military conflicts led countries all over the world step-by-step into a war that swept across the globe. 
The impact of the Chinese people’s counterattack against Japanese aggression was also felt worldwide. Although the war mainly occurred in China, it was a war in which the Chinese people resisted foreign enemies, and its influence surpassed national boundaries. The Chinese people’s anti-Japanese act embodies the national spirit of bravery and unyielding persistence. 
After the September 18 Incident, Japan escalated disputes in North China, and finally triggered a comprehensive war of aggression against China on July 7, 1937. Before the outbreak of the Pacific War on December 7, 1941, China had been the only anti-fascist battlefield in the East. The tenacious resistance of the Chinese army and people won the respect of other countries and greatly encouraged the morale and confidence of people all over the world to defeat fascism.
The former American President Roosevelt said that during this war, the Chinese people were the first to stand up and fight the invaders—over the years, they fought alone against aggression. He paid tribute to the Chinese people’s persistent heroic struggle under extremely unfavorable conditions. Professor Rana Mitter of Oxford University also acknowledges that China was the first country to combat aggression from the Axis during World War II. American scholar Lloyd E. Eastman (whose Chinese name is Yi Lao Yi) praised China for its deeds in the war. “It insisted for eight years in fighting the enemy army who had an absolute advantage in military organization, training and equipment, and this tenacious resistance has made a great contribution to the entire Allies’ wartime efforts of the anti-Axis countries,” said him. Roosevelt also praised the steadfastness of the Chinese army, and applauded it as as an inspiration to Allied armies, which has won the highest praise from the United States and all nations that love freedom. Mark Selden, another American historian, also commented that within 15 years, China’s war of resistance left about 2 million Japanese troops trapped and severely damaged on the Chinese battlefield, contributing significantly to Japan’s final defeat in the Pacific War. From these comments, we can see that China’s anti-Japanese war is of great significance, not only for comprehensive national liberation, but also, it was an important part of the World Anti-Fascist War. The blood-stained flag of its tenacious resistance has been flying in the eastern world, encouraging thousands of peace-loving people to devote themselves to the great war.
Japan’s defeat is an inexorable historical necessity, but some Japanese were reluctant to accept the failure. Japanese right-wingers have long believed that Japan was not defeated by China and are unwilling to bow to the Chinese people. In fact, this argument already existed when the anti-Japanese war ended. At that time, Yasuji Okamura, the commander-in-chief of the expeditionary forces dispatched to China, believed that they still had about 1.05 million troops in China, and that most of China’s big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Wuhan, were still controlled by expeditionary forces. “The surrender of the expeditionary forces was not due to its own defeat, but as Japan surrendered, it had to surrender.” said Okamura. In fact, with this 1.05 million residue of evilness, the Japanese army could only be the caged beasts which still struggled for the final desperate fight. The history following 1931 proved that Japan can not defeat or destroy China, and its ultimate failure is inevitable. Moreover, what the Japanese aggressors faced were not only the Chinese people, but also thousands of peace-loving people all over the world, which decided that Japan could only court its own ruin. 
The cooperation between the rear battlefields under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the frontlines under the command of the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party of China) had formed a strategic situation of jointly fighting against the Japanese invaders. The victory of the Chinese people showed its indestructibly great power.
The frontlines led by Kuomintang, under unfavorable circumstances where its equipment and other material conditions were greatly lower than the Japanese level, carried out active resistance. The rear battlefields led by CPC, by mobilizing and relying on people, launched guerrilla warfare, and established a large number of resistance base areas behind the enemy lines. The two supported and echoed each other, so that they defeated and contained a large number of Japanese forces. Evans Fordyce Carlson, an American officer who visited the resistance base areas behind enemy lines, once said that he couldn’t believe that the Chinese people worked so hard together at such a critical moment. According to Professor Mitter, the Kuomintang and the CPC were the only two major parties in East Asia that persisted in resisting Japanese imperialism between 1937 and 1945. This view is objective.
World War II was not a war between one country and another. In addition to China, Japan also invaded many other Asian countries and territories held by the United States, Britain, France, the Netherlands and others. The fascist countries of Germany, Italy and Japan were defeated not only by a certain regime, a certain country, but also by the international anti-fascist united front. Although frictions exist among the allies, since each country has their own interests, they cooperated with each other for a last-ditch battle in face of the intense attack from fascism. Therefore, the World Anti-Fascist War is an indivisible whole.
Japanese war criminals were brought to trial after the war. Xi said that “Japan’s constant aggression against China is the darkest page in the country’s history since modern times.” But apart from China, many other Asian countries were also invaded by Japan. As Xi pointed out, “The inhuman acts of aggression by Japanese militarism, the heinous crimes of slaughter, the barbaric and maniac plunder and atrocity have brought holocaust to the Chinese people and the people of the vast number of Asian countries.” The unshakable facts can not be obliterated. “Any denial of the history of aggression or even glorification of the war of aggression and colonial rule will arouse great indignation, severe condemnation and strong vigilance from these countries.” said Xi.
After World War II, people became more aware that the future of each member of mankind was closely related, and that the use of force to resolve international disputes should be avoided. The Allies decided to punish the perpetrators of the war to warn future generations not to wage war arbitrarily and to avoid repeating the tragedy of the world war. China has been actively defending the trial results of the International Military Court for the Far East, the aim of which is to safeguard world peace and the shared future of mankind. “We commemorate the victory of the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and the World Anti-Fascist War, condemn the brutality of the aggressors, and emphasize the importance of remembering historical experiences and lessons, which is not to renew hatred, but to arouse the yearning for and adherence to peace among good people. ” Concluded Xi. 
Gao Shihua is research fellow from the Institute of Modern History at Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and editor-in-chief of The Journal of Studies of China’s Resistance War Against Japan. 
Edited by BAI LE