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The Founding of the

Peoples Republic of China

China at War

Part 1:
Japanese Occupation

The War Will Be Over in a

Few Months
Japan viewed China as a nation that could
be conquered easily
The Japanese had been brought up to think
of the Chinese as pigs and one should not
feel guilty for slaughtering them
Many locals initially welcomed the
Japanese army as they couldnt be much
worse than previous regimes
It was thought that China would simply
allow itself to be conquered

What was the state of

Chinas defences at the
start of WW2?

The Fight for Shanghai

One of Japans first moves was to take Shanghai, a
city of great economic importance to China. Even
though this was a very difficult city to defend Chiang
decided to use this opportunity to stand up to the
Japanese and show the world how China would
respond to foreign aggression.
Chiang lost much of his most advanced military units
but succeeded in making an effective stand (Chiang
had previously been seen as weak for allowing the
Japanese to control Manchuria)
Chiang placed his hopes on gaining American support
as he knew his armies couldnt defend China for long

The Fight for Shanghai

When Japan finally took
control of Shanghai they
instigated a brutal
regime. The Japanese
were offended to see
such an inferior nation
stand up for itself so
effectively in battle
Japan supported Hitlers
anti-Semitic policy and
built Jewish ghettos.

The Rape of Nanjing

The Japanese then made moves on the capital of
When the Japanese finally took the city they
embarked on a systematic campaign to destroy it in
the cruelest ways possible, this would also serve as a
warning to any further Chinese defence attempts
Japanese soldiers committed many war crimes:
Decapitation races
Medical experiments
Forced prostitution of school girls

Remains of just some of the victims in Nanjing.

Such atrocities were made public by the Japanese who wanted to
terrify China into submission, however this had the opposite effect.

Decapitation Races.
Photos taken by the
Japanese themselves
and published in
national newspapers.
Note the smiling soldier
in the background

Effects of Japanese
China suddenly became
galvanised and saw themselves
as one nation who needed to
work together to defeat a
merciless enemy
Chiang came under pressure to
work with willing CCP
revolutionary fighters- not
destroy them
Dashing Communist guerrilla
fighters quickly won mass
Meanwhile, the GMD still
launched anti CCP campaigns

WW2 in Modern Film



Chinese Victory
Thanks to sustained guerilla
fighting, resistance fighters,
spies and national
determination, China was able
to defend itself from Japan
until an American counterinvasion
To this day Japan continues to
teach an altered version of
history during this period,
choosing not to acknowledge
the full extent of Japanese war

Part 2:
Chinese Resistance and the Rise of Mao

Chiangs Initial Policies

Communism: the
sickness within
1932- Japan liberates
Manchuria, Chiang loses
Appearing strong to
attract Western support
(especially the US)
International aid and
military assistance
Puyi becomes the
puppet Emperor of

Communist Resistance
Mao can afford to take a hard stance against the
Guerrilla warfare with troops with ever-increasing
Communist reform in liberated areas
Education, discipline and justice quickly inspire
loyalty amongst the peasantry
Russian assistance (Comintern disbanded in
1943 but CCP still had access to a limited
collection of foreign advisors sympathetic to
communist ideals)

International Perspectives
Allies condemn Japanese
activities and sympathise with
Russia assists in order to protect
its own borders
Foreign reporters are drawn to
the heroic achievements of Mao
and help boost the image and
legitimacy of the CCPs image
Read: Red Star Over China, Edgar Snow

Edgar Snow visits


In Maos Red base in Yanan the CCP experiment with
putting their ideologies into practice and draw
supporters from all over the country
The CCP favour the peasantry and educate and
empower the poor
The Red Army gets access to education and training
and grows a fierce sense of loyalty and discipline to
the communist cause
The Rectification of Conduct campaign is carried
out in 1942-4 and solidifies discipline and political
correctness amongst the CCP
The CCP become a centralised, experienced and
cohesive force, headed by charismatic leaders

The GMD and Military

The GMD army is weak and
brutal with many
demoralised conscripts
Soldiers who come into
contact with communists
often switch sides
Chiangs position is
extremely difficult but the
GMD do manage to become
the only Asian power who
are able to stand up to Japan
(only Americas atomic bomb
would stop them later)

Japanese occupation
of Beiping

The Civil War (1946-49)

When Japan surrenders Russia and
America rush to secure spheres of
political influence in China
Russia helps the CCP to secure
liberated territory and Japanese
military equipment
America hope for a quick resolution
that will not end in more protracted

Questions for Further Study

Questions for Further Study

1. Was Chiang a military failure?
2. What was Russias policy regarding
China during WW2?
3. Who would you have supported
during the struggle and why?
4. What were the weaknesses of the
5. Is Mao a hero?

Essay Question
To what extent did US intervention
in 1941 change the nature of the
conflict in the Sino-Japanese War
of 1937-45?
(pg 122)