China Was The First To Enter World War II; But Who Cares?

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China will hold a massive military parade on Thursday to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the World War 2. Though top officials from about 30 countries are attending the ceremony, Western leaders will be absent. That’s because China’s contributions to the victory in 1945 are highly undervalued even though it was the first country to enter what later became World War 2.

China was an Ally of the U.S. and the UK

Rana Mitter, a professor of modern Chinese politics at the University of Oxford, said Tuesday that few in the West remember the fact that China was an ally of the United States and the UK from the Pearl Harbor in 1941 to Japan’s surrender in 1945. Mitter said China became the first country to fight the second World War in July 1937 when Japanese troops attacked the Marco Polo bridge that gave them access to Beijing.

It marked the beginning of Beijing’s eight-year long war of resistance against the Japanese aggression. China’s suffering during the war could be gauged by the fact that the fire of war covered over half of the Chinese territory. More than 35 million Chinese citizens were killed or wounded, and over 260 million were directly affected by the war. China’s economic losses reached $100 billion at the then price.

China’s decision changed the fate of Asia

The Japanese had captured many cities in central and eastern China, including Shanghai, Wuhan, and Nanjing. At the time, many Western experts believed that it was impossible for the Chinese to hold out, and Japan’s victory was almost certain. But China refused to surrender and continued its resistance. And that decision “changed the fate of Asia.”

Had China surrendered in 1938, the Japanese could have controlled the country for a few generations. Japanese forces might have turned to the Southeast Asia, the Soviet Union, and even India, said Mitter. Western countries admired that the fact that the Chinese resistance was holding down more than 600,000 Japanese troops that could have otherwise been transferred to other parts of Asia.

In fact, more than 250,000 U.S. troops served in the “China-Burma-India” theater, said Mitter. However, China had little resources than other Allies, which is one of the reasons the West doesn’t fully realize the Chinese contribution to the War.

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