World War Two: China's Forgotten War - Part One
The outbreak of World War Two is usually associated with early September 1939, when Britain and France declared war on Germany after the Nazi invasion of Poland. In the far-east, however, war had already been raging for two years. Since July 1937 China had been under attack from Japan’s mighty Imperial army, facing the onslaught alone. This made them the first country to have entered World War Two. Before the outbreak of war, Japan’s Imperial ambitions had been steadily growing as they sought new land for their growing populace. Having occupied Manchuria since 1931 China was the natural place to expand to on the mainland. They planned to conquer the entire country in three months, cutting off China from Beijing in the north through to the south and acquiring the lucrative lands in the east of the country.
The war broke out on 7 July 1937 when Japanese and Chinese soldiers exchanged fire at the Marco Polo bridge in Beijing. Tensions continued to rise following this encounter as both sides began to commit larger forces to the fray. Believing China’s very existence as a nation hung in the balance politicians from all sides of the spectrum – Communists and Nationalists – put aside their ideological differences and united to defend their country from invasion. It would be an extremely vicious war of resistance, spanning eight years and costing the lives of more than 40 million Chinese men, women and children.
In this standout documentary from our East Meets West season, Oxford professor and renowned historian of modern China Rana Mitter travels across the country to find the last remaining survivors, gathering first hand accounts to reveal the true stories of China’s struggle to survive and how victory helped forge modern China. This is the story of China’s Forgotten War.Duration: 60 Min