Introduced and Annotated by Connor Hasegawa

This source is an excerpt from the book China’s Destiny, which was written by Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the Chinese Nationalist Party, and his ghostwriter Tao Xisheng.[1] Published in late 1943, the book describes Chiang’s “views on China, its glorious culture and history, and its bright and shining future.”[2] Jay Taylor has also suggested that Chiang Kai-shek’s book was a response to On the New Democracy, an essay written by Mao Zedong that presented the Mao’s ideas for China’s future under the Chinese Communist Party.[3] China’s Destiny was made required reading for students, officials, military officers and members of the Nationalist Party, but on the recommendation of his wife, Chiang Kai-shek decided against publishing his book in English. The reasoning behind this was that Madame Chiang feared that the book’s “prideful, socialist, anti-imperialist and even anti-capitalist ideas” would offend China’s American and British allies.[4]

In the excerpt, “The International Setting of the War of Resistance – An Account of the Military and Diplomatic Battles Before and During the War of Resistance,” Chiang provides a summary of China’s contributions to the war effort, and describes how China has “played such an important role in world affairs.”[5] Highlighting the wartime accomplishments of the Nationalist government would have been important in justifying the widespread suffering experienced by millions of Chinese people during the “War of Resistance.” In addition to boasting to his own people about the achievements of China under his direction, Chiang may have also been seeking to demonstrate China’s dedication to the war effort to his allies. Chiang had long been accused by his Western allies of not fully committing to the war with Japan and instead hoarding supplies for a future war with Mao and the Chinese Communist Party.[6] His reputation in the United States had also been undermined by his American advisor General Joseph Stilwell, who frequently spoke negatively of Chiang to his American superiors.[7] While Chiang ultimately chose not to publish his work in English for fear of political backlash, it is possible that this excerpt was originally intended to gain sympathy from both Chinese and Western readers. Despite the lack of an official English translation, China’s Destiny eventually did end up in the hands of Western audiences after it was published in a New York-based leftist magazine called Amerasia.[8]

Ten excerpts from Chiang Kai-shek’s China’s Destiny and Chinese Economic Theory (Leiden: Brill, 2012).

  1. After the September 18th [1931] incident the Japanese imperialists, in pursuit of their “continental policy,” proposed the so-called “Three Principles” and tried to force their acceptance by the Nationalist Government (141).[9]
  2. And “Joint Defense against Communism” was a Japanese plot to use our four Northeastern Provinces as a base from which to continue their encroachments on Chinese territory, to blackmail the Chinese Government, and to synchronize their military activities with those of the Axis countries in Europe for a joint attack against Soviet Russia from the East and West (141).[10]
  3. Thereafter, China fought the war single-handed for two years before the outbreak of the European War; four years later the Pacific War began (142).[11]
  4. If one examines Japanese policy, however, one can see that there has been no such consistency, and that, furthermore, Japan must eventually abandon the “continental policy” that she has pursued since the days of Emperor Meiji (142).[12]
  5. Therefore, we can state that between the incident of July 7th [1937] and the incident of August 12 [1937], when China’s War of Resistance was launched, we had already defeated Japan’s traditional policy both politically and militarily, and had laid the foundation for our own victory (142).[13]
  6. The incidents of Changkufeng [1938] and Nomonhan [1939] were evidence of this desire (143).[14]
  7. Then Tojo, as war minister, formed a cabinet committed to the strategy of “southern expansion first, northern expansion afterward,” and on December 8, 1941 [December 7tth, in the U.S.A.], under cover of the American-Japanese negotiations, Japan suddenly attacked British and American Pacific possessions and points of strategic importance (145).[15]
  8. The Joint Declaration against Aggression, signed in Washington on January 1, 1942 by the peace-leaving countries of the world, was in reality the crystallization of the revolutionary spirit of mankind in its fight against tyranny (146).[16]
  9. Our Nationalist Government, in accord with our already established policy, signed this declaration with the other anti-aggressor countries, and our country was recognized as one of the four Great Powers (146).[17]
  10. But in the midst of this succession of triumphs, our army dealt a crushing defeat to the Japanese in the battle of Changsha, and thereby crippled them in the Chinese theater of war (146).[18]

———

Works Cited

“Declaration by United Nations (Washington, 1st January, 1942), with the Atlantic Charter, and the Tripartite Pact signed at Berlin, 27th September, 1940 (GENERAL United Nations)” (London, 1942)

Chiang, Kai-shek. China’s Destiny and Chinese Economic Theory. Leiden: Brill, 2012.

Goldman, Stuart D. Nomonhan, 1939: The Red Army’s Victory that Shaped World War II. Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2012.

Koshiro,Yukiko. Imperial Eclipse: Japan’s Strategic Thinking about Continental Asia before August 1945. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2013.

Sandler, Stanley. World War II in the Pacific: An Encyclopedia. Taylor & Francis, 2001.

Taylor, Jay. The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2009.

Takeshi, Hara. “The ‘Great Emperor’ Meiji,” in The Emperors of Modern Japan, edited by Ben-Ami Shillony. Boston: Brill, 2008.

Notes

[1] Jay Taylor, The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2009), 260.

[2] Ibid., 260.

[3] Ibid., 260.

[4] Ibid., 260-261.

[5] Chiang Kai-shek, China’s Destiny and Chinese Economic Theory (Leiden: Brill, 2012).

[6] Taylor, Generalissimo, 213-214.

[7] Ibid., 278, 290, 294.

[8] Ibid., 261.

[9] September 18, 1931 was the date of The Mukden Incident or Manchuria Incident. During this event, soldiers under the command of the warlord Zhang Xueliang, also known as the Young Marshal, captured and killed a Japanese officer in Manchuria. Japanese officers stationed nearby retaliated without consulting any authorities. The Japanese then used this conflict to justify further expansion into Manchuria.

[10] Chiang had conceded provinces in northern China to the Japanese, though he explained to the public that this agreement was unofficial because there was no signed documentation of the agreement. The Japanese turned this area into an autonomous region that was governed provincially by Chinese collaborators.

[11] Although the Chinese were alone in fighting Japan, they were not completely without support. The Soviets did not participate in combat against Japan during the 1930s, but they were one of China’s key allies early on in the war with Japan and provided the Chinese with vehicles, arms, and millions of dollars in loans.

[12] Emperor Meiji reigned from 1867 to 1912 and is often credited with the unifying Japan and transforming the country into a modern world power. During his reign, Japan underwent a rapid transformation from a feudal country into a modern industrial nation.

[13] July 7, 1937 was the date of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident. This incident began as a small exchange of fire between Chinese and Japanese troops near the Marco Polo Bridge and rapidly escalated into a renewed Japanese offensive.

[14] Changkufeng [Zhanggufeng] and Nomonhan were the sites of two border conflicts between Japan and the Soviet Union. The Changkufeng Incident, which was referred to as the Battle of Lake Khasan by the Russians, took place near the city of Changkufeng, which is located near the intersection of the Russian, Manchurian and Korean border. The Nomonhan Incident, which was referred to as the Battle of Khalkin Gol by the Russians, took place in mid-1939 near the disputed border between Manchuria and Mongolia. At the Tokyo War Crimes Trials which took place at the war’s end, Japan would be found “guilty of aggression” in these incidents.

[15] This refers to the Japanese surprise attack on the American navy at Pearl Harbor and on the British forces at Hong Kong.

[16] Chiang is likely referring to the 1942 Declaration by United Nations, which called for the signatories to commit their military and economic resources against the Axis powers and to agree to not make separate peace treaties with the Axis nations.

[17] Chiang sought to have China included as one of the Great Powers in the Allies, along with Britain, the United States and the USSR. While Chiang was included to an extent, he was often ignored by Stalin and Churchill and as a result was left out of several important decisions.

[18] Several different battles occurred at the Chinese city of Changsha, but the one referenced here most likely occurred in 1942. Shortly after the fall of Hong Kong, the Japanese attacked the Chinese Army at Changsha. The Japanese were able to occupy the city, but were surrounded and suffered large casualties. This was the first offensive carried out by the Chinese as a member of the Allies.

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