World War Two: China's Forgotten War - Part Two
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 and war erupted on 7 July 1937.
Since 1937 China had been fighting a war of resistance against the Imperial Japanese invaders alone at an extremely high cost of human suffering. In October 1938 Japan had control over much of northern and central China, including control over a number of key cities such as Beijing, Tianjing, Shanghai, Nanjing and Wuhan. Japanese troops then turned their attention to southwest China and Chongqing, the wartime capital of China and a symbol of Chinese resistance.
Chinese morale was at an all-time low; the Imperial Japanese advance looked unstoppable. Yet in late 1941 help was finally at hand after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbour. The extent and unrelenting nature of Japan’s territorial ambitions was finally realised by America, Britain and their Allies as they declared war on the Land of the Rising Sun. This would mark a turning point in the war for China. No longer were they fighting this war alone.
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